By Todd Peterson, Vice President of Information Technology, Eden Medical Center
My name is Todd Peterson and I’m Vice President of Information Technology at Eden Medical Center. Castro Valley has been my home for the past 26 years, and I’ve worked for Sutter Health for ten years, joining Eden 2 ½ years ago.
My team is responsible for making sure all computer systems are up and fully functioning 24/7; and while computer repair is a significant part of our business, we are responsible for implementing new technologies that are now vital to many aspects of our patients’ care.
One major project underway that will be a cornerstone of the new Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley hospital is Electronic Health Records (EHR), a project conceived when I was still at Sutter. Basically the new hospital is being designed with minimal use of paper. That’s right… no more clipboards and illegible handwriting.
The EHR will facilitate all clinical documentation and reporting; all medical disciplines will be recorded. What does this mean? Our physicians will get a full view of a patient’s care at any given time, from any location, once their patient has been admitted to the hospital. So the patient’s medical history as it relates to diagnostics, drug therapy, procedures, diet, rehabilitation and notes generated by physicians and nurses will all be available online. This also includes previous visits to any Sutter Health-owned facility or physician office.
The EHR will ultimately be integrated with biomedical technology. That means much of the clinical equipment in patient rooms—heart monitors, blood pressure cuffs, IV pumps, and even the beds themselves—will feed information directly into the patient records. With real time monitors of the patient’s vitals, a physician can be alerted if a trend in their medical condition warrants medical attention well before a critical threshold is met. So the EHR will be a documentation system and much more; it will provide clinicians with a wider view of what is happening with a patient at all times so they can quickly take action.
Patient records will also show a correlation of clinical events, a true cause and effect. For example, a physician may order medications in response to laboratory test results. Subsequent laboratory tests can then be correlated to the timing of the medication and will demonstrate the degree of effectiveness. This constant correlation gives the entire care team the information they need to deliver the best care at the right time.
The critical exchange between the doctor who is on call and the nurse on duty will also be enhanced by EHR. Without delay, a physician can access the patient’s record from home, while the nurse views the same information from a workstation in the patient’s room so rather than just rely on a verbal exchange they are both viewing the patient’s record.
One of the key benefits of EHR is patient safety. In the area of medication management, physicians will use computerized order entry to address legibility issues and alert the physician to any contra indications, such as allergies, food or other medications that the patient is on. The process of administering the drug involves the nurse scanning the barcodes on the patient’s wristband and medication bottles. The system will confirm the patient’s name, medication name, correct time, correct dose and proper route (oral, or otherwise).
We will provide full accessibility to patient data. All this information, all images, reports, etc. will be available at the patient’s bedside. Every patient room, alcoves between rooms and nurses’ station will be furnished with a computer workstation so patient records can be accessed throughout the hospital. Physicians will also have wireless devices such as PC tablets to provide the most flexibility and mobility throughout the hospital.
Down the road, our patients who see Sutter Health physicians will be able to see their own clinical results online; they’ll be able to email their doctors and arrange appointments, and more importantly, track their own history and take responsibility for their own health. We may even use EHR to work in concert with our county and state health departments to track health trends in the community.
The prospects for EHR are endless. Our patients and clinicians become real partners in the delivery of care over the long term.
Your input is very important to us. I invite you to ask me any questions about the EHR system by either commenting beneath this post (click on the title of the post, if you are on the blog’s front page, and you’ll see the comment box below), or by emailing me.
Sidney Wanetick, M.D.
My name is Sidney Wanetick. For 26 years, I was in practice as an OB-GYN in Castro Valley, and I delivered more than 3,000 babies at Eden Medical Center.
In 2008, I retired from practice to accept the position of Vice President of Medical Affairs at Eden Medical Center. Today, I serve as the administrative liaison between the medical staff and administration, helping to support our physicians as they provide high quality care to our patients now and as we look to the future of Eden.
In addition to other duties, I am actively involved in assisting our physicians in recruiting new physicians to the community.
I’m very excited about the new Sutter Health hospital that is replacing Eden. Several major benefits stand out. In particular, having all private rooms for patients will make a huge difference, bringing more services to their bedsides and giving them more quality time with their doctors.
From the physician’s standpoint, this is a much better way to take care of patients and have important conversations with family members in private, as well as offer patients the privacy and rest needed for recuperation. The nurses’ stations will have a view of every patient’s room for faster response to patient needs.
The whole atmosphere of the new hospital will feel less institutional and more supportive, soothing and restful.
Today, even though Eden has 176 beds, we are unable to utilize all of these beds. Most rooms are semi-private, with very few private rooms and even a few four-bed wards. Yet, we can’t put men and women together, and we can’t mix patients with infections in with the general patient population. So even though Eden is larger, the Sutter replacement hospital will end up with a much better capacity for utilization of services.
Moreover, we are seeing a steady decline in the number of patients admitted to the hospital for more extended periods of time. When I first started my practice we admitted twice as many patients for surgery as we do today. My patients stayed in the hospital for five days or more! Also, if patients were scheduled for surgery, they would be admitted the night before. Today patients often have surgery and are discharged the same day, or, if they are admitted, the average length of stay is much shorter.
In addition to the 130 acute care beds, we’ll have a 34-bed, multi-purpose Universal Care Unit (UCU), which also supports the shorter hospital stay. Let’s say an Emergency Room patient has been treated and needs to stay for observation, but not necessarily be admitted. He or she can rest comfortably in the UCU. Or, if a patient is recovering from same-day surgery, we could have him assigned to a UCU bed where he’ll get the attention he needs.
There will also be vast improvements in our information technology systems that just aren’t possible at Eden; our current system has reached capacity. With the new electronic medical records system, our clinical staff will have access to lab reports, x-rays, medication, etc., right at their fingertips. Recent studies have demonstrated improved outcomes and fewer errors in centers that have electronic records, and the new hospital will have innovative, secure electronic records and data systems.
I welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to leave a comment by clicking on the title of this post (if you are on the front page of the blog), and a comment box will appear below.
By George Bischalaney, President & CEO, Eden Medical Center
This past year was another busy year for our elected representatives, passing another bevy of bills that will impact hospitals and other health care providers. In every case, I have no doubt, each bill was written with some positive motive; to provide better access to health care services, to help control or reduce costs, to protect confidentiality or a patient’s right of choice, or in some cases mandating policies or practices that are costly to implement and monitor and may have a questionable cost benefit to patients.
But will more legislative remedies to the extremely complex and already cumbersome system of health services in California actually improve the patient care experience? One has to wonder.
In most service industries, the consumer helps direct change by withholding use of a service that doesn’t meet his/her needs. This is not as easily done when someone needs medical care. Yet the consumers, our patients, speak to us through direct communication and through their responses to the surveys we send. What we need to do is listen more attentively and respond more appropriately.
At Eden Medical Center we randomly send out surveys to patients who have been hospitalized, patients who use our mental health services, patients who have surgery and leave the same day, and patients who use the Emergency Department. We ask about every aspect of their experience, from the time they are registered through their discharge from the hospital. This includes physician and nursing interactions, quality of food and housekeeping, and the staff that drew blood or took an x-ray. Patients or family members are also invited to write comments, good or bad, and tell us anything else they think we should know about our services.
Hospitals are for the most part, stops of last resort for all. People come here already laden with apprehension, uncertainty and even a certain amount of fear. They have seemingly little or no control over what is about to happen to them or their loved ones. It is our job, our responsibility, to care for them as we would members of our own family.
If more legislation is needed to encourage us or force us to care for patients as we would our own family members, then we deserve what is given us. However, if we truly listen to our patients, our customers, and respond as a service industry that needs to be attentive to the needs of its customers, the industry would be vastly improved in terms of quality care and the patient’s experience. What more is really needed?
As always, we want to hear what you have to say. Please feel free to comment or ask questions in the comment box beneath each post, including this one. We will respond as quickly as possible.
One of the most important elements we’re trying to take into account in designing the new Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley hospital is the experience patients and their loved ones want from their hospital stays, and the positive experience employees want from their work environment. There are a number of outcomes the design team is working to accomplish, innovation being an underlying theme.
First of all, gone are the days of patients sharing a hospital room with a complete stranger. Our new building features all private patient rooms with adjoining zones of space designed for the patient, the caregiver and a family or guest zone.
We’re even bringing design innovation to patient room doors, making them wider than standard to allow for safe assisted ambulation. And no more squeezing in to tiny patient bathrooms; sliding doors will be used for easy access.
Ceiling mounted bed lifts are being built into a number of patient rooms. These lifts use remote controls to lift patients on to gurneys or into wheel chairs. Talk about avoiding back strain! Not to mention patient falls. Portable bed lifts will also be widely available.
The power of natural light in promoting a healing experience has been well documented, so our design team has incorporated the use of natural interior light wherever possible. Sound absorbing materials are also being incorporated into the building design to promote a natural, calm and therapeutic setting. And all bedsides will be equipped with flat screen TVs and a full array of cable stations.
We’re implementing cool new technologies to make life easier for everyone as well.
While the lobby will have the typical staffed patient registration desk, we’ll also have walk-up kiosks for patients who are comfortable checking themselves in (think airport terminals). And visitors will be able to use the same HIPPA-compliant systems to locate their family and friends who’ve been admitted.
Most of us have sat long hours in waiting rooms sifting through magazines. At the new hospital we’ll have cool kiosks with WIFI access in patient rooms so you can be productive while your loved ones are getting the care they need.
Visitors (and staff) will have separate elevators and corridors to improve the visitor experience through a “front of the house” versus “back of the house” experience.
A number of other innovations will give the hospital staff greater functional improvements. Sutter Health will be rolling out a system called Vocera, a wireless, hands-free voice communication device, which allows key patient information that can be pushed out to the care giver to increase patient safety and improve response time, and dramatically reduces overhead noise by essentially eliminating overhead paging.
Electronic Medical Records (EMR) will be installed, as well as an automated “command center” to coordinate staffing, patient admissions, placement and discharge, patient flow and room turnover. The command center will also track patients and resources, manage process flow bottlenecks and maximize organizational efficiency.
The Universal Care Unit (UCU) is a one of the exciting innovations—an all-in-one patient care room. Whether the patient has to go to a post anesthesia care unit, surgical pre-op care, recovery, injections or short-term observation, the UCU can serve all of these patient functions. It can be used during an ER (emergency room) overflow when all inpatient beds are full. And in a large-scale disaster scenario, the UCU may also help to meet surge capacity needs. This will be a high activity area where patients who are in this unit will have actions being taken to improve and expedite their care process with the intent of improving outcomes and reducing the length of stay.
If you have any questions for the project team or want to comment about these exciting new hospital innovations, please click on the title of this post, and you’ll see a comment box (or it should appear below, if you’re just reading this one post). We really appreciate your feedback and suggestions…and, on behalf of our entire team, we wish you and your loved ones a healthy, safe and Happy Thanksgiving!