Process Management Tools For Nursing Lacking - InformationWeek

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Healthcare // Clinical Information Systems

Process Management Tools For Nursing Lacking

Survey finds nurses lack supply chain and logistics technology that could help them better manage patients.

Implementing technology that manages the planning and execution of patient procedures and helps with work flow processes will greatly improve a nurse's ability to provide better care to patients, a new study shows.

Participants in the study, conducted by Jackson Healthcare, Alpharetta, Ga., said much of their time on the hospital floor was taken up with documenting information in multiple locations, completing logs, checklists and other unnecessary paperwork, data collecting, filling in regulatory documentation, and entering or reviewing orders.

Of the 2,439 nurses who responded to the Web-based survey, 73 percent said they spent one quarter of their 12-hour shift on indirect patient care. The nurses said regulatory requirements, redundant paperwork, and logistical challenges were the primary reasons for the time they spent away from patients.

"The survey reinforces what we already know: hospitals don't have adequate technology in the process management side of their operations," said Ben Sawyer, executive vice president of StatCom, a subsidiary of Jackson Health and a supplier of hospital operating systems solutions.

One example Sawyer cited that demonstrates the logistical challenges nurses face is the demand for an MRI. If 100 hospital patients are scheduled for an MRI, another 50 outpatients may be scheduled for an MRI using the same equipment.

"As a result, patients wait, and nurses are challenged to coordinate a patient's schedule because there's no logistical system to handle this process. Nurses end up making a lot of phone calls to check on when the patient can have an MRI," Sawyer said.

While hospitals have good technology on the clinical side, they lag behind other service industries because of the missing logistical technology that would give nurses a realtime, up-to-the-minute view of a patient's itinerary, Sawyer said.

"Healthcare is the last industry to move from a manual environment to a technology supported or enabled setting. Nurses need the latest information to be able to effectively coordinate the care of the patient and manage the expectations of the family," Sawyer added.

According to Sawyer, the proven success of supply chain and logistics technology can be seen across the manufacturing and retail industries, at companies like FedEx. The airline industry also demonstrates that healthcare can benefit from logistical technology.

"When you come into an airport, passengers have all the display boards that show flight times, gate changes etc. and the pilots are coordinated on runways through the air traffic control system," Sawyer said. "There is a common logistical platform that is managing today's chaos which is a good industrial reference for healthcare, because like passengers, patients need to get their needs met today relative to what the doctor has requested," Sawyer added.

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