Nurses Actively Involved in Implementation of new EHR
by Kenny Whiteside, BSN, RN
When Catawba Valley Medical Center determined in 2010 that it was time to upgrade our Meditech “Magic” system to the newly developed and much more advanced 6.0 platform, it was a given that nurses would play a crucial role in preparing for that transition. In all, the Meditech 6.0 implementation project involves a total of 18 primary teams, six of which include a total of 37 nurses!
Implementing the new Meditech 6.0 platform is like implementing an entirely new Healthcare Information System (HCIS). Meditech not only involves all aspects of patient care but also all of the supportive processes that are so important for the day-to-day operations of the hospital. For this reason, the first order of business was to carefully study the current processes used throughout our facility. Nurses were in the forefront of “mapping” clinical processes. Everything that is currently done demanded asking the question, “Why do we do it this way? Is this how we should do it in the future?” Failing to design the system to meet future needs will seriously impede the efficient use of the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) for years.
After each team received their first wave of training from Meditech, the task of trying to determine the best way to build the “pieces” that make up the Meditech 6.0 system began. Rather than continuing to work as we always have, new processes must often be developed to accommodate future needs of providing patient care while using an increasingly integrated electronic medical record.
What does the future look like for nurses using 6.0?
With the initial implementation of Meditech 6.0 on June 1, 2013, nurses will see an immediate improvement in the appearance and functionality of the Meditech system. Patient records, such as lab results, active medications, imaging reports, etc, will be much more easily accessed using Meditech’s Electronic Medical Record (EMR). The EMR is easily accessible by simply opening the patient chart. If orders are needed, a convenient “Orders” button quickly allows the nurse to enter necessary orders without having to back out of the current view. Documenting patient care can be done in either a “form” view or in a “flowsheet” view that displays previously recorded information while documenting. Switching views can even be done while in the process of documenting!
A short time after the implementation of 6.0, nurses will begin seeing physicians entering new orders and “managing” existing orders for the patient. When physicians manage patient orders themselves, patient safety can be improved. No longer will poor legibility of physician orders pose a problem! No longer will there be delays in care because a patient chart was placed back into the rack without realizing that new orders had been written! No longer should physicians order labs that are already ordered to be done!
Will Meditech 6.0 fix every problem?
Involving nursing in the design and build process of the clinical modules of Meditech 6.0 helps to ensure that new processes are designed to take advantage of the new system and to work efficiently. Though we all wish our new software system would be the “fix-all” for every problem, the truth falls short! While the use of technology has the potential to improve many things, there will also be inevitable short-comings. Worse, converting entirely to electronic medical records will create unforeseen challenges and concerns.
As has been true for decades, it is the nurse on the front line of patient care who is often in the best position to recognize potential problems. Nurses must remain vigilant… even with increased use of technology. Nurses are pivotal to identifying potential risks to the patients. Particularly when making such monumental change in electronic medical records, nurses are crucial partners for success! Any time a potential or actual patient risk arises, nurses should engage their unit leadership to initiate the problem-solving process and foster rapid resolution.