Sutter Care At Home, a Sacramento, Calif.-based not-for-profit home care and hospice agency, is equipping its caregivers with tablet computers to improve access to information and care coordination among its mobile workforce.

The affiliate of Sutter Health has more than 1,300 caregivers making home visits in 23 counties in the northern part of the state, serving more than 100,000 patients.

Sutter Care at Home transitioned to tablets using the Android operating system in 2012, after attempting to implement systems that used laptops and, later, smartphones, said Philip Chuang, chief strategy executive and former director of information services for Sutter Care at Home.

Clinicians helped assess the technology, and Sutter Care at Home eventually selected devices with 7-inch screens and 4G mobile broadband capabilities. These devices offer access to the Internet and also provide email communication with fellow mobile caregivers, which enable improved care coordination. Access to email also gives caregivers access to scanned documents, which previously had to be faxed and physically retrieved.

The tablets use a mobile version of the Epic Systems electronic health record that Sutter Health uses, providing read-only data from prior hospitalizations, office visits and laboratory results.

“Tablets have sped up the flow of the process,” says Jennifer Brecher, project manager for the Sutter Care at Home project. “In the past, if one of the clinicians went to see the patient on Monday and the physical therapist would go on Tuesday, the therapist would not have the electronic information about the Monday visit available. This is better from a productivity standpoint and better for the patient.”

The standard time to complete documentation is now 24 hours, down from 72 hours before use of the tablets.

The College of Health Information Management Executives (CHIME), Ann Arbor, Mich., has released a case study of the Sutter deployment.




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