Patient Safety in Healthcare Informatics

by Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

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    00:01 Imagine that the healthcare environment is a bustling city.

    00:04 Each building, street, and System in this city has safety measures in place to protect its residents.

    00:10 Just like stop signs and traffic lights prevent accidents and direct the flow of traffic. Practice alerts and disease protocols.

    00:18 Tracking systems are used to prevent error, reduce harm, and improve the overall quality of care. So, let's begin by looking at practice alerts.

    00:28 If you've ever driven on a large highway, you might have seen a digital billboard extending over the road with information about traffic detours.

    00:35 Imagine receiving similar alerts for hazards in the way the health care system functions.

    00:40 These are called practice alerts.

    00:43 These automated notifications, or reminders, pop up in electronic health record systems and guide clinical decisions with an informatics perspective.

    00:52 You can see how helpful it would be to have practice alerts for things like life-threatening allergies, drug-to-drug interactions, contraindications to certain medications, lab tests, or procedures for the highly complex people we take care of. Disease-specific practice alert systems are like our city's emergency response plan.

    01:13 When sepsis, a life-threatening condition, is detected, these protocols provide automated practice alerts for the specific condition or disease we're trying to manage.

    01:25 Automated order sets are an important part of these systems.

    01:29 These are standardized electronic templates that guide evidence-based treatment.

    01:34 This makes sure that each patient gets the best possible care, just like a blueprint ensures each building in our city is constructed to perfection.

    01:43 For example, let's say a patient enters an emergency room with fever, malaise, hypotension, and exposure to an infectious pathogen.

    01:52 A predetermined set of these findings trigger the prescribing provider to adhere to the Embedded Sepsis Protocol.

    02:00 When this protocol is in place, the automated order set sends orders to the lab for blood cultures and other important lab draws.

    02:08 Now, this is what cues the provider to make a choice of antibiotic or antiviral therapy, and includes a stop alert to the nurse to ensure those blood cultures get drawn by the lab before administering the first dose.

    02:22 Consider all the points in that sequence of events where the technology increased efficiency and coordination of care.

    02:29 Well, not to be outdone, tracking system solutions are an additional example of how technology and information intersect.

    02:36 This is where they elevate patient safety.

    02:39 These solutions are like a master control center of the organization, monitoring patient health, managing medical records, and even tracking hospital inventory.

    02:49 For example, when you discharge a patient from the bed assignment, an alert from the tracking system solution sends these signals.

    02:57 It will signal housekeeping staff that a room needs preparing.

    03:00 It will signal the intake coordinator that a bed is coming available, and it will tell the citywide bed availability monitoring technology that there is a bed available at X, Y, Z hospital.

    03:13 All of these examples should make you think, wow, that's a lot of information being shared for a lot of reasons.

    03:20 It takes knowledge, skill, and experience with both technology and the healthcare system to make this all work.

    03:27 And that is just one of the many things an Informaticist does.

    03:33 Now that sounds great that the technology talks to itself, but what about the real people actually doing all the steps in between? That is where the voice communication systems enable real-time, hands-free communication among staff, depending on the health care context.

    03:48 These can include smartphones, walkie-talkies, EarPods, or tablets with voice command and recognition or virtual connections.

    03:56 All are designed to make workflow more efficient, but each highly depends on the people behind the scenes, making the technology user-friendly and reliable.

    04:07 Finally, we have point-of-care systems.

    04:10 These are like kiosks scattered around our city, providing services right where and when they're needed.

    04:16 Point of care systems like handheld glucometers, blood clotting, time meters, and pulse oximetry devices answer clinical questions in the now so decisions can be made in quality of care. Advanced.

    04:29 From safety regulations to communication systems.

    04:32 Each concept forms an integral part of our healthcare city.

    04:36 These tools and systems help informatics professionals build a city, or rather, a healthcare system that's efficient, safe, and continually improving.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Patient Safety in Healthcare Informatics by Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN is from the course Healthcare Informatics.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. A program that sends an alert to housekeeping and intake coordination when a client is discharged.
    2. Point-of-care blood glucose monitors that upload data to the client’s chart.
    3. An automated order set that is triggered when a client begins showing signs of sepsis.
    4. An automated alert that is triggered when a prescriber orders two medications that are contraindicated when taken together.
    1. Automated notifications present in electronic health records systems.
    2. Automated email alerts present in hospital intranet.
    3. Personalized messages sent to healthcare providers via email after an internal review.
    4. Personalized notifications that show up in client’s charts after internal reviews.

    Author of lecture Patient Safety in Healthcare Informatics

     Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

    Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

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