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What Nurses Really Need

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My feature article in the April issue of Health Data Management outlined many of the success stories hospitals have had with incorporating I.T. into the workflow of nurses.


While researching that story, I also asked a variety of nursing informatics experts what tools are lacking in their hospitals. Here’s their wish list of items—it ranges from small applications to more comprehensive issues around system design:

Wish List Item: Touch Screen Technology

Nurses at the three hospitals that comprise Southcoast Hospitals Group have at their disposal a bevy of I.T. tools, including wireless bar coded bedside medication administration that is part of its hospital information system, from MediTech. “Every nurse has either a wireless laptop or a PC,” says Debbie Raposo. Problem: “The computers cannot keep up with the nurses. They must use key strokes to enter most data.” Her solution: touch screen technology. She may have to wait a while, however, as her vendor does not provide the technology.

Wish List Item: Photo Downloads

UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside has advanced to nearly the top rung of the clinical automation ladder, as measured by HIMSS Analytics. It’s comfortably ensconced at stage six of the seven-rung continuum. Yet, there are small areas in need of automation, says Holly Lorenz, CNO. Currently, nurses take a photo of patients being treated for skin problems. But there is no quick and simple way for the nurse to download the picture into the hospital’s EHR. They must tote the camera to the Health Information Management department, where it is extracted and downloaded into the system. “It would be really nice if the process were more integrated,” Lorenz says.

Wish List Item: Push Technology

Even at hospitals that have automated the daily to-do list, nurses must still log on and retrieve it.  Melissa Barthold, a nursing informatics manager at Baptist Health South Florida, says the 2,500 nurses who staff the health system’s five hospitals would benefit from an information dashboard that would push out tasks that need to be done quickly. “Nurses need to know what must be done right away and what can be postponed,” she says. Baptist is looking to upgrade its core hospital information system, from Siemens, and Barthold hopes the new Soarian system will support such a need.

Wish List Item: Integrated Nurse Call Systems

Deloitte Consulting’s Dana Womack has advised multiple hospitals on nursing-related IT deployments. For her, one of the most glaring gaps is the disconnect among the back-end reporting features for the many systems nurses use. “We need to leverage data across many systems,” she says. “We have data coming out of the e-Mar (electronic medication administration system), supply dispensing, and the nurse call system. We don’t have systems to pull it all together.” For example, a data mining tool could note that it is taking longer for nurses to answer their call lights while meds are being delivered behind schedule. That might signal that something is awry, Womack says. “It could bring attention to the manager that a floater nurse is needed. It would improve safety.”

There you have the list—touch screens, easier photo downloads, integrated call systems, push technology. What’s on yours? Send them to gary.baldwin@sourcemedia.com.



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