The following is a guest blog post by Andy Lurie, Director of Marketing and Partner Relations at Add On Data.
Mobile computing carts have been a mainstay in the hospital environment since the electronic medical records (EMR) mandate took effect in the United States. To show meaningful use of electronic health records in the healthcare environment, facilities across the nation have adopted mobile computing carts as the primary means of addressing EMR at the point-of-care. Mobile carts offer better ergonomics and productivity than tablets or mobile devices.
Mobile computer carts aren’t just a means of satisfying the new meaningful use requirements for EMR however, they’re becoming vital aspects of workflow optimization and error reduction strategies at healthcare facilities everywhere. Hospitals that initially overlooked the practical benefits of satisfying the EMR mandate are now benefiting from fewer recording errors in patient records, more accurate medication administration, and enhanced worker productivity. Keep reading to find out how!
Mobile Computer Carts Help Care Providers Get More Done
It’s easy to imagine how the introduction of mobile workstations to the healthcare environment has enhanced productivity, especially for the nurses and physicians that use this equipment daily. Here’s what a workflow for patient visits might have looked like before the introduction of mobile workstations:
- The nurse visits the patient’s room.
- The nurse interviews the patient and conducts any relevant assessments (blood pressure, vitals, etc.)
- The nurse visits the medication/equipment room to get materials needed by the patient.
- The nurse returns to the patient and administers treatments.
- The nurse returns to the stationary workstation located at the nurse’s station.
- The nurse records the patient’s condition and documents the treatment provided.
- The nurse is ready to visit a new patient.
With mobile computer carts, nurses can reduce many of the walking steps in this process. Basic medical supplies and medications can be stored securely in the drawers of a mobile computing cart, reducing the need for trips to supply rooms. The nurse can also update patient records at the bedside, eliminating the need to repeatedly return to a stationary workstation throughout their shift. A 10-20% reduction in the time taken for a patient visit represents massive productivity gains for an organization.
Mobile Computer Carts Reduce Errors in EMR Recording
EMR recording errors are an insidious and completely unnecessary cause of adverse outcomes for the patient, but they’re a sad reality of an inefficient workflow that separates the processes of patient care from the process of documentation.
We all trust our healthcare providers to provide attentive and conscientious care for each patient, but it’s easy to imagine how documentation errors can occur. Nurses who routine to a stationary workstation between patient visits may sometimes find that computer occupied, meaning they have to wait before documenting the most recent interaction. Sometimes nurses encounter distractions on their way to document a patient interaction – it could be a medical emergency, an urgent request from another staff member, a disruptive patient or visitor, or anything else.
Nurses and physicians need to be accountable for accurately documenting every interaction they have with patients, and this is best achieved with mobile computer carts. Mobile carts ensure the presence of an available workstation at the point of care, ensuring that patient care is documented as it happens and without delay. This reduces data entry errors and enhances patient safety.
Mobile Computer Carts Help Ensure Secure and Accurate Medicine Administration
Mobile computer carts have been used effectively to ensure the security, accuracy, and timeliness of medication administration in hospitals. Carts can be customized with secure drawers for holding medication, as well as bar-code scanners that nurses use to correctly identify patients and match them with the appropriate medications. The combination of medication verification software and organized storage of patient medications virtually eliminates the possibility of patient medication errors.
A study that assessed adverse drug events (ADEs) found that each hospital experiences a medication error every 22.7 hours and every 19.73 admissions. Miscommunication and “Human Factors” have been identified as leading factors contributing to these mistakes, along with similar labeling on medications and patient name confusion. Using bar-code scanners and software to match patients with their proper medications reduces these errors and ultimately saves lives by addressing sources of error that are inherent to the manual administration of medicines in the hospital setting.
While the implementation of mobile computer carts in the healthcare environment is important for satisfying the EMR mandate, hospitals should not overlook the real opportunities to generate and capitalize on the other benefits of mobile carts. Effective usage of mobile computing carts reduces errors and increases hospital efficiency, helping facilities reduce their costs and improve patient safety and health outcomes.