In its two most recent annual lists of Top Ten Health Technology Hazards, the ECRI Institute pegged “data integrity errors as a result of incorrect or missing data” in EHRs as a leading concern. This is partly an issue of propagation by automation: While data integrity issues existed with paper medical records, digitization makes incorrect information more readily available and more easily shared. Data integrity errors can originate with integrated instruments in the patient room that aren’t accurately paired with patients. More commonly, errors are fueled by the fact that EHR data is often captured on paper notes and entered much later.
Delayed data entry happens because caregivers understandably prefer to focus on patients, and respond to the urgency of their daily shifts, rather than taking time to log on to a computer and count the clicks during their rounds. Unfortunately, delays set the stage for data gaps that result from memory lapse or misplaced written notes, and for inaccuracies due to unclear writing. Delaying the entry of vital signs and assessments by a few hours or even to the end of a shift can complicate the use of CPOE, as the latest information may not yet be in the EHR.
The answer isn’t to force caregivers to focus more attention on the EHR. What’s needed are tools that make it natural and simple for complete information to be captured electronically at the point of care without EHR distraction. The best available path lies in today’s high-performing mobile solutions that overlay the EHR.
PatientTouch, our smart point-of-care mobile platform, enables clinicians to accurately collect vital signs, input and output, patient checks and other short captures of the most common data, which certainly don’t require the presence of a fully featured EHR. Our mobile solutions can also provide intelligence to drive workflows, protect privacy and promote patient safety. For example, PatientTouch not only guides clinicians through the information to be collected, but also ensures that patients are protected in the process and issues warnings, such as when medication is potentially being administered in excess.
To make mobile data capture work effectively, the enterprise must implement processes and technology that ensure complete recording at the point of care, and integration to ensure that the right data is shared across systems.
Enterprises that take these measures are leading the way in supporting clinicians’ preference toward the smartphone devices they use today as well as toward spending time with the patient rather than documenting. It’s an important step toward enhancing patient safety while preserving patient engagement.