No one likes the paper chase, and despite decades of digitalisation, many workplaces remain a flood of paperwork, often duplicated. In some environments, the cost of errors is higher than mere annoyance though: for healthcare professionals, eliminating paper means delivering better treatment to patients.
Of course, digitalisation is nothing new in healthcare: hospitals have been using computers to record data about patients and medication for decades, starting with mainframes and later moving to Unix server and dumb terminals and finally traditional desktop PCs. The process still required duplication of effort, however, including manual entry and re-entry of data that was often collected on paper.
Today, things can be done differently – and this is good news for patients and staff alike.
VisionID’s range of mobile workstations provides access to essential applications while on the move, and this is a welcome development in hospital environments. The primary goal is efficiency: removing paper from the bedside process and moving everything toward automation.
“Over the years, we’ve seen double and even triple entry of data, and we know that for each time there is re-entry, there are errors,” said Andrew Daly, sales manager at VisionID.
Data-entry errors in medicine, of course, are not as easily fixed as they might be in other sectors, so the mobile workstations bring not only efficiency, but safety. For Daly, this is the key benefit of the systems.
“At the end of the day we’re humans, and where humans are involved, there’s always going to be data-processing errors, but [in healthcare] these errors have serious consequences for patient care: misdiagnosis of diseases, for example,” he said.
Mobile workstations, paired with the right mobile computer, reduce time spent on administration by staff who can then get on with caring for patients.
Daly said these devices bring the information stored about patients right up to their bedside in a digital fault-free and error-free manner.
“It gives clinicians and associates in the healthcare industry the ability to capture data in full screen, but also to be mobile on the hospital floor. They can get information at the bedside or anywhere else that they need to, and dispense drugs or print barcodes right at the point of contact.
“If we can do things like capture data and read or print labels at the point of care, with all of the information going into and coming out of one system, there’s going to be significant time savings, allowing the nurse or clinician to spend more time caring for the patient rather than doing paperwork,” he said.
The mobile workstations have four key goals: first, positive patient ID and tracking. On-board barcode scanning allows patient identity to be read automatically from wristbands, for instance.
“Any patient going through the hospital needs to be tracked properly for things like pharmacy management. I can scan a wristband at any point in the hospital and know who a patient is and what medicines they are taking”, Daly said.
It is not only the patients who can be tracked, however. The second goal, specimen tracking, means the technology solution toward eliminating wrong diagnoses.
Thirdly, the mobile workstations play a vital role in pharmacy management by recording which medicines are available in which quantities and to whom they have been prescribed.
“It helps with verifying and recording information, this leads to effective control of medicine distribution as well as stock management within the pharmacy,” he said.
Finally, the systems are supported by a fully managed end-to-end service. Daly said this removes the stress of dealing with the systems from hospital IT departments.
“VisionID has five engineers on the road to support our healthcare and hospital base anywhere in Ireland, on site,” he said.
VisionID’s systems will also be rolled out next year as part of the HSE’s National Medical Laboratory Information System - or MedLIS.
“The project started some years ago and will come on-stream in 2019,” said Daly.
VisionID’s first MedLIS site will come online in the coming months, but the project as a whole will be rolled out to a total of 43 hospitals nationwide.
“It’s about ensuring that, whenever any doctor in the country takes a blood sample, a label is printed and it can be tracked through the system,” Daly said. “When samples are taken on the hospital floor, this will be done on the mobile workstation there and then. There will be no re-entry later.”