Meet me at HealthCamp Philly!
First off, what is HealthCamp Philadelphia? It’s a free mini-conference that gives health care providers and technically minded people the chance to come together and discuss their ideas. So why am I going? First of all, I’m looking forward to meeting some of my favorite tweeps like @holaolah, @LizScherer, and @PhilBaumann in person. Secondly, I’m hoping to have a discussion about the way patient information is exchanged between health care providers. In nursing we like to refer to this as “report.” Technology should theoretically allow our reports to be exchanged in away that is timely, accurate, and efficient. We have computerized nearly all the aspects of our health care delivery from ordering, to charting, to health records. Yet our nursing reports still consist of handwritten notes and rushed phone conversations! Why is this? To explain my frustration, I offer you a typical MICU scenario: A doctor goes to the computer and places an order for your patient to go to radiology for a procedure. You haven’t seen the order yet because you are in your other patient’s room, doing an assessment. You get a phone call. It’s the procedural nurse. “Your patient is coming to radiology, right? We haven’t gotten your transport sheet yet.” “I haven’t even seen the order yet.” “Well, try to hurry up and send us the transport sheet.” (The transport sheet is basically a patient report sheet that you fill out by hand and fax to the appropriate people.) So you finish the assessment while thinking about what meds you will need to give before your patient can leave the floor. You get another phone call. This time it’s the transport team. “Your patient is going to radiology, right? We haven’t gotten the transport sheet yet. We’ll have a team ready in 15 minutes but you have to fax us the transport sheet.” “Just got the order. I’ll get it to you as soon as I can.” As an ICU nurse, you have to grab this piece of paper from the nurses station, open up your electronic chart, and start writing down the information on a piece of paper so it can be faxed to 2 different parts of the hospital. Do you see the folly in this? (I guess you could say the transport sheets are kind of like my TPS Reports.) The flow of patient care has just been interrupted not once, but twice, by people telling you to “Hurry up and fax us the transport sheet!” You’re already working with electronic charting. Why do you have to transcribe something with pen and paper? Isn’t the whole point of making things ELECTRONIC so that you don’t have to do it that way? If another health care provider needs access to this information a patient report should be automatically generated and sent to the appropriate areas of the hospital. Then, if anyone has any questions about the patient, they can call you to get clarification, hopefully without too much interruption. So what’s the answer? There are many different ways to solve this problem. I’ll focus on one: I believe that twitter could serve as a model for relaying patient information efficiently, timely, and accurately. (And obviously you would address the issue of patient privacy as well.) Bonus points? The 140 character limit forces you to enter the most relevant and concise facts about your patient, so you’re not flooded with information that you don’t need at that particular point in time. And that’s just one use for twitter in the health care arena. Check out Phil Baumann’s slideshare presentation of 140 more! Is twitter an oversimplified way of solving this complicated problem? Perhaps. But the point is that we have to start discussing this. The technology exists to make hospitals so much more efficient, and yet I can tell you from a nurse’s perspective, we aren’t seeing much in the way of innovation. Hopefully in the near future we will be seeing more of these Healthcamp-like events where people can get together and start the discussion.