Friday, August 2, 2013

Impressive Level of Preparation

Dr. Trenor Williams
During the last 12 years I have been extremely fortunate to have participated in more than 100 electronic medical record go-lives. I am so impressed with the level of preparation at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and the investment made by the nurses, physicians, hospital executives and departmental leaders over the last several years. That's right  years.

I wish I could say that every hospital is as committed as the Hospital Center and dedicates the time and resources to these crucial efforts, but I can't. Dedicated individuals and leaders have been meeting weekly or biweekly to prepare for the go-live and focus on how to make the transition to advanced documentation and computerized physician order entry go as smoothly as possible.

The Hospital Center is special. The community of patients and all associates should be extremely proud of the work that has gone into this project.

This is an extremely important step in the journey. It's certainly not the end of the line. We all will continue to build upon this great foundation as the hospital moves forward and continually improve the system and our care delivery processes.
Trenor Williams, MD
CEO, Clinovations

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Only the Beginning

Linda S. McCauley, Director
Clinical Informatics
We all become more savvy the more we use our cell phones, tablets, computers and DVRs. We fine-tune what we need, and ignore what we don’t want. We adapt to the new technology and enjoy the benefits of information at our fingertips. You probably “have an app for that!” … whatever that is.

Yet, you know there is something new/different/better just around the corner, don’t you? It seems you’ve only just gotten comfortable with that new phone when the next best thing comes along.

Even though I’ve spent months on the team developing the inpatient electronic medical records (EMR) system for MedStar Washington Hospital Center, and I seem to have worked 24/7 for the last week as we transitioned to the new system, the launch of MedConnect II, to me, is a bit like “waiting for the next best thing.” I know our journey has really just begun. We are at the beginning of a very exciting venture in health care.

As we continue on this journey, we will improve the health of the people who live in our communities. We will have solid data that will tell us where to focus our preventative programs. We will connect our patients to more efficient and timely care. We will develop ways to make care even safer.

Our electronic medical records system will always be changing, always be evolving, always improving. Even with the enormous planning efforts, the years of development, the tens of thousands of hours of classes, we are just beginning to put into action what we call the “living use” of MedConnect.

That doesn’t happen with a flip of a switch. It takes time.

Linda S. McCauley, RN
Director, Clinical Informatics

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Everything in Its Place

Dr. Peter Hill
I’ve been a physician long enough to remember the days of stacks and stacks of paper medical records in manila folders. Stuffed. Heavy.

I know all about tracking down test results, and trying to connect my patients with their records.

Actually, one need not have been a physician for too long to remember “those days.” I am relieved they are almost at an end. (The next generation of physicians will be armed with tablet computers, easy to carry and loaded with more information than 5,000 square feet of filing space could ever hold.)

With our MedConnect electronic medical records system, all of a patient’s medical records will be available to me in a format that is easy to retrieve. Not only can I see my patients’ outpatient records – such as any procedures or lab tests done on an “in-and-out” basis – I also will have access to my patients’ inpatient records from any previous hospitalizations at seven of our 10 MedStar Health hospitals.  I can even see patient records from other hospital systems.

In brief: I will have a complete picture of my patients. I will have all of the information I need to treat them safely and effectively.

I’m glad I’ve been around long enough to see this happen.

Peter Hill, MD, Chief Medical Informatics Officer

Friday, July 26, 2013

And They ARE “All That"

Sue Eckert, RN
Chief Nursing Executive
Our hospital is charged with extra energy (can that be possible?) as we are set to “go live” with our upgraded electronic medical records (EMR) tomorrow.

I am awe-struck at the accomplishments of our team – your caregivers – and that is a significant statement for me. As a nurse here for more than 30 years, I know what our associates are capable of. I saw them join forces on Sept. 11, 2001 like never before. I have seen them bear down and push forward to save lives. I have seen them do the extraordinary every day.

I want our community to know that our associates are extraordinarily well-prepared and well-trained for our new system. Their teamwork has been awe-inspiring.  Bedside nurses have stepped into leadership roles. Schedulers have learned to program spreadsheets. Informatics nurses have become logistics experts.  I've seen our fabulous nurse leaders encourage and manage their staff so well that no nurse has been left behind.

I want our community to know how grateful I am to the 1,700+ nurses who signed up and showed up for training. This was a hands-on, pull-your-weight, all-hands-on-deck, no-holds-barred, let's-get-it-together situation, and every single person came through.

That's amazing.

Now, let's get started!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Patient Patients in the ED

Dr. Bill Frohna
Our ED team at MedStar Washington Hospital Center is one of the most experienced in the country, handling more than 90,000 patient visits each year. That’s an average of about 250 patients per day. As many of you have experienced, it gets very, very busy.

Our new electronic medical record system is designed to help us provide better and safer care to our patients, which will help us enormously in hectic situations. In emergencies, every second matters. If you have been a patient with us before – or at any of our six other MedStar Health hospitals that use MedConnect – we will have your history instantly. We will know about any pre-existing conditions you have and take that information into consideration as we treat you. We can avoid giving you medications that could interact with what you already are taking.

At a hospital like ours, where we care for some of the most complex cases in the region while also taking care of the daily needs of people living in our community, we are looking forward to the extra help from our new “e-partner!”

As with anything “new,” however, we will experience delays in the ED as we become familiar with the system. So, in advance, I thank you – our patients – for your patience with us. In a short time, the new EMR will be helping us provide better, safer, more efficient, more timely care for everyone who comes through our doors.

Bill Frohna, MD, Chair, Emergency Medicine

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It’s Like a House Renovation – Only a Million Times More Complicated!

George Thorne,
Director of Engineering
If you can remember where you lived in 1958 (the year MedStar Washington Hospital Center opened) or even any time in the 60s, 70s, or 80s, you’ll recall that a house or apartment was lucky to have two electrical sockets per room. That’s how things were at the Hospital Center when my father was a paint/plaster supervisor here from 1964 -1987. It’s the way things were when I joined the Hospital Center family in 1969.

How things have changed!

For the last year, as we prepared the Hospital Center physical plant for our upgraded Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system, our engineers have walked through and assessed all 926 rooms, all operating rooms, all treatment areas – and more – many, many, many times to assure everything is up to code, modernized, and ready for our new equipment.

Working with our partners in Design and Construction, and Information Technology, we have installed, upgraded or built:
  • 300+ electrical outlets
  • 2,668 devices (desktop computers, hand-held computers, tracking boards, monitors)
  • 80+ new cabinets
  • 46 new desktops with a wall-mount arm
  • 68 new countertops and shelves
  • Completely renovated 3 patient units
The engineers are proud to be part of this moment in the Hospital Center’s history. I think my Dad would be proud, too.

George Thorne, Director, Engineering

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Simply Extraordinary

Janis Donnelly, BSN, MS, MBA
Senior Nursing Director Quality, Safety and Education
It’s an extraordinary nurse who volunteers to step away from the bedside for three months to thoroughly learn a new electronic medical records (EMR) system, then turn around and train other nursing colleagues.

I am proud to say that we have 18 such extraordinary nurses at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

These patient caregivers love caring for patients, and they are great at it. Yet, they immediately understood the critical role nurses have in launching this upgraded system, aimed at enhancing efficiency, safety and the timeliness of care. They became so proficient with the ins and outs of the system that they recommended more efficient and practical ways of doing things.

They saw a need, and stepped up to meet that need.

We could not have launched this system without this team of nurses. And when they return to their units next week, they will continue their “trainer” role for several more weeks before they once again devote themselves to direct patient care.

One of our nurses, Maureen Long, works in the medical intensive care unit. She said, “We’ve been very involved.  We formulated and wrote the lectures. We developed workflow systems.” Another nurse, Megan Philbrick, who normally works on the surgical intensive care unit, said, “I’ve gotten to meet so many people from so many parts of the Hospital Center, and that’s been fun.  It’s been a nice change of pace. But after this is over I’m excited to go back to caring for patients.”

We can’t wait to have you back on the units, Megan and Maureen. All of us at the Hospital Center, and me, especially, thank you for your amazing efforts. I have learned so much from you and this terrific team of nurses who are putting their hearts and souls into making sure this important new system is the best it can be for our patients.

Janis Donnelly, BSN, MS, MBA
Senior Nursing Director Quality, Safety and Education