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|Glenwood implements upgrades|
Technology often seen outside the healthcare field now is playing a vital role in day-to-day operations at Glenwood Regional Medical Center.
Technology like bar code scanners and computers on wheels are being utilized more at the hospital to give the most up-to-date, accurate information about patients for their caregivers.
"We're using rolling computers at the bedside to input vital signs and patient assessments and to view test results" said Debbie Blair, chief nursing officer at Glenwood. "With the computers, our nurses can work through the so-called paperwork faster than before, and they can do it without having to use paper at all."
By replacing paper with computerized patient records, nurses can be more efficient at patient charting, which means they have more time for direct patient care.
Electronic documentation of patient records has many benefits, Blair said. As information is added to a patient's file, the computerized record becomes instantaneously available to all of the people responsible for a patient's care and treatment.
"It means a nurse can be entering a patient's clinical data on the computer at the patient's bedside, while a physician is viewing that up-to-the-minute information from his office across the street," Blair said.
Using secured Internet access, physicians can log-on to the hospital system from anywhere, anytime and view the latest information about their patients.
Physicians can stay informed about a patient's care from the office or from home in the evenings.
"Because of the instantaneous access to patient information, they are treated more proactively and physician visits to the patient are more meaningful since the physician is better informed," Blair said.
The electronic documentation system can also pull information directly from medical devices, such as ventilators and cardiac monitors and add that information right into the patient's record. It can create "to do" lists, which allow nurses to review every step of a patient's care, such as medications and IVs, to ensure no task is inadvertently forgotten. It can issue alerts that new information has been added to the patient's file or to signal a development that requires a nurse's attention.
The new technology is part of the $40-million commitment from IASIS Healthcare, which owns Glenwood Regional Medical Center.
Recently, Glenwood added the bar-code scanning system to match patients with their medications.
"The same technology that assures the right price at a grocery checkout lane is now helping to assure the patients at Glenwood are getting the right medicines at the right time," Blair said. "Every time we give a patient a medication, we scan a bar code on the medication, and then we scan a bar code on the patient's hospital wristband."
She said the system makes sure patients have the right medicine and the right dose. If not, a warning screen comes up alerting the nurse not to administer the medication.
The system not only checks medication accuracy at the time the drug is administered, it also alerts nurses when a medication is about to be missed, Blair said.