Here's a story, set in a private practice, but just as applicable to hospitals. After buying a Misys EMR to go paperless, this practice found themselves futzing with paper EKG recordings causing frustration, inefficiencies, and probably some embarrassment for someone. Here's the before:
new EMR couldn't accept such images, so nurses administering EKG tests
had to print a hard copy of the results and send it to the practice's
medical records department. When a physician requested tracings,
records department staff had to locate and fax them to the physician, a
process that often took several hours.
After searching for a solution, they found that Midmark had an EKG cart (wireless, no less) that could be integrated with Misys. They bought 10 carts, replacing their existing systems. Here's how it works now:
nurses push one button to start EKG tests and the results automatically
are stored in the patient's electronic medical record. Physicians can
access the tracings from any location in the practice by logging into
the EMR on Tablet PCs from Fujitsu Computer Systems Corp., Sunnyvale,
Calif. Additionally, physicians can access the tracings from home by
accessing the EMR via a virtual private network.
Frequently, medical device integration seems to be an afterthought to EMR projects. Without a comprehensive needs assessment and strategic plan, potential benefits will remain unrealized and substantial unanticipated (an many times avoidable) costs will be born.