How Preoperative Technology is Helping Spine Centers Improve Information Sharing Facility-Wide

Written by Cynthia Chappell, Nurse Manager for the Methodist Hospital for Surgery | January 31, 2014 | Print  |

cynthia chappellThe use of pre-operative technology has become increasingly more common in the hospital and ambulatory surgery center industries because of the many benefits it has to offer.

By enabling patients to log onto the system and fill out their medical history in advance of their procedure, nurses are saving significant time by eliminating the need to phone patients in advance of their procedures to gather this information. Histories are more comprehensive, more accurate as patients have the necessary information available when completing their medical histories at a time and place that is convenient for them. These systems also offer an added bonus for patients, no more pesky calls asking for personal medical information when they are at work or otherwise busy. Yet the true power of preoperative systems is much more than simply getting preadmissions done quickly and accurately, it is the access to information it provides facility-wide throughout a patient's entire surgical procedure.


Preoperative systems have advanced to the point where they now follow a patient throughout an entire surgical visit; starting at the doctor's office where a patient is first made aware of the system all the way through discharge. For patients going to a rehabilitation facility, systems exist that allow the patient to download their preoperative information to take it with them.


The beauty of these systems is patient information is kept in one common place and can be easily and securely accessed by staff throughout a patient's stay. For example, using the One Medical Passport System, nurses and the surgical team at the Methodist Hospital for Surgery can access the system prior to meeting with patients on the day of surgery. Remote access is also available for those working offsite.


For post-surgical care, the PACU department/recovery room nurses can access the system while patients are in surgery. The ability to view pre-existing issues prior to patients arriving enables nurses to prepare for any special needs that need to be addressed such as an interpreter or a patient with a pacemaker.


Given the complexities associated with spine surgeries, it is not uncommon for patients to be admitted to intensive care units after surgery. Having access to patient information prior to receiving (the patient) allows nurses to devote more time to getting the patient's medications ready and helping them recover from surgery. In addition to standard height and weight data, the Methodist Hospital for Surgery pharmacy department also receives daily warning reports from the One Medical Passport system alerting pharmacists to any possible allergies or drug interactions.


Even the business office benefits from the system. Staff can quickly log into the system and access insurance information inputted by patients such as policy holder and policy number. With information readily available, verifications are completed much further in advance.


When considering a pre-operative system, it is important to note that not all are created equal. To ensure you select a system that offers the most benefits to your staff, look for the following features:


Medication reconciliation and the flagging of high-risk patients. Medication reconciliation features help create more accurate histories. Systems are available that offer prompts to help patients along the way and ensure accuracy of prescription name and dosage. Systems are also available that enable proactive alerts to be set to flag high-risk factors such as BMI over 34 or latex allergies. Look for a system that offers interactive alerts that allow anesthesiologists to input comments for staff such as additional testing needed alongside a warning flag. Many systems also allow for the customization of alerts to meet a facility's specific needs/criteria.


Chart continuity. Chart continuity makes it easier for facility staff to find information. For even greater efficiency, look for a system that will allow medical histories, once they are verified, to be automatically populated to anesthesia forms, history and physicals, as well as any other relevant documentation.


Image archiving and document management. Bringing the preadmission process online unifies information so that it is all in one place. Look for a system that extends preoperative document management to include image archiving capabilities. The ability to upload, track and store information such as H&Ps, consent forms, scans, and labs that are sent from a doctor's office to a facility and associate each document with a patient's medical history greatly improves information management and patient safety.


Cloud-based. Cloud computing is a secure, cost-effective way to manage patient information and communication; only a Web browser is needed to take part. Cloud-based systems give patients the opportunity to complete their medical history when and where they have access to their medications and other health information. These systems also allow physicians, anesthesiologists, pulmonologists, etc., to remotely log in and view upcoming cases.


Patient convenience. A system that doesn't require patients to complete a new history each time they visit will increase patient satisfaction. Look for a system that allows patients to log back into previously created medical histories and update as needed. Some systems will even allow for histories to be shared between facilities and allow patients to print histories for their own personal records.


Ease-of-use. One of the most important features to consider is ease-of-use. If the system is not easy for patients and staff to use, they will not use it. Choose a system that provides an intuitive interface and allows patients to easily update previously developed histories as needed. The pre-operative system should seem simple but have incredibly robust functionality.

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