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Emergency medicine

BC’s Interior Health upgrades ER systems

VERNON, B.C. – Health Services Minister George Abbott and Okanagan-Vernon MLA Tom Christensen announced that the emergency department at Vernon Jubilee Hospital is one of five hospitals in Interior Health that will get an electronic patient tracking system that records a patient’s journey through emergency.

“Electronic white boards in emergency departments provide busy health professionals with the most current status of each patient,” said Abbott. “This improved communication allows staff to prioritize patient care at a glance.”

The board at Vernon Jubilee Hospital cost $164,000 and provides all of the information required to properly assess and treat a patient. Triage level, bed number, symptoms and updates on lab orders are just a few of the details available to staff, eliminating the need to manually track down patient updates.

“Vernon residents will benefit from this innovative technology,” said Christensen. “Timely and accurate information among emergency department staff translates into faster decision-making and treatment of individual patients based on need.”

“The program is directly linked into Interior Health’s Meditech system, which updates information in real time,” said Dr. Manish Bhatt, emergency department head, Vernon Jubilee Hospital. “The tracking board system records every step of patient care with a time stamp and automatically flags when a patient may be waiting too long for assessment.”

The emergency department patient tracking system has been successfully implemented in other hospitals, including Vancouver General and Kelowna General.

The new boards are being funded by the Province’s Transformation Fund. A total of $771,000 was allocated to the project at five hospitals across Interior Health, including: Kootenay Boundary Regional, Royal Inland, East Kootenay Regional, Penticton Regional and Vernon Jubilee. The board at Royal Inland Hospital became operational earlier this month, with the remainder to be introduced in February and March of this year.

“A further benefit to the electronic system is its ability to capture emergency department data for historical reporting and analysis,” said Joanne Konnert, chief operating officer Okanagan, Interior Health. “The data gathered from this system will provide us with the opportunity to continue to improve patient flow in emergency departments throughout Interior Health.”

In the February 2008 Budget Speech, government announced a three-year, $300-million Transformation Fund for British Columbia’s health system to help drive change in the province’s technology, procurement, information and service delivery systems. This tracking system is one of many projects to receive funding that was allocated to a wide range of health authority initiatives that focus on increasing efficiency in the delivery of medical services.

Electronic Patient Tracking System
The emergency department management application is a visual patient tracking system. It monitors the emergency patients and their wait times through their entire length of stay in the department.

The application assists emergency department staff in the critical task of managing patients efficiently and simultaneously from multiple locations. It captures the nurse and physician initial assessment times in real time as soon as staff sign up for their patients.

The quick registration routine allows getting emergency patients into the system quickly by recording the minimum number of data fields necessary. Patients show up on the board, even before being fully registered.

Patients in the department are displayed on two 42-inch LCD electronic boards that refresh patients’ information every 15 seconds. The boards display patients’ names, bed numbers, symptoms, lab and diagnostic imaging requests, physician and nurse initials, triage levels and how long they have been in the department. Boards are only visible to emergency department staff.

Diagnostic procedures can be generated and communicated to appropriate diagnostic services. The dynamic integration with order management allows emergency department staff to get visual notification as soon as diagnostic tests are completed. Diagnostic results can then be accessed with a single click from the patient tracker.