October 27, 2011

New center for clinical technology improves efficiency

New center for clinical technology improves efficiency

The Vanderbilt Medical Group Innovation Integration Center is also known as the I2 Team.

“The purpose of this new center is to listen to the feedback of users, understand institutional strategy and develop improvements in our processes and electronic medical record that are more efficient, integrated and easier to use,” said Jim Jirjis, M.D., MBA, assistant chief medical officer, chief medical information officer and executive director of the new center. “Our goal is to increase usability and stamp out unnecessary duplication in workflow.”

The center was born amid a new push to help more Vanderbilt providers become routine users of clinical IT. Under a new patient safety initiative, over the next 12 months VMG providers will begin using computers to write prescriptions and to gather clinical summaries that will be printed out and handed to each patient at the conclusion of each clinic visit.

In one new project sponsored by the I2 Team, entire clinics have begun moving to the “cloud.” The digital processing power that drives use of Vanderbilt’s electronic medical record application, StarPanel, is moving off of clinical workstations and onto specialized servers. As busy users move from one room and one workstation to the next, their StarPanel session will follow them, saving users from having to navigate back to their previous position within the application.

“Our vision is to shorten the time between the user initiating a session and using an application,” said Wendy Kiepek, R.N., manager of the I2 Team.

The upgrade, which will roll out clinic by clinic and unit by unit over the next several months, is predicted to save users an average 47 seconds each time they move to their next workstation, providing VUMC a “reinvested time benefit” worth an estimated $1.9 million per year.

“This has changed everything for me,” said Cymethia Brown, a patient care tech in the Adult Primary Care Center, where the upgrade was initially tested in March. “I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.”

More recent pilot areas for the upgrade include Pediatric Endocrinology.

“It’s faster, and when you see 18 patients a day, all those seconds add up,” said pediatric nurse practitioner Barbara Duffy, R.N., MSN.

Another project will provide clinical teams with a streamlined view of documents, test results and other communications specific to the care team.

“Viewing every single piece of information in the patient’s chart works for primary care, but consultants and specialists often would benefit from a filtered view of information specific to their workflow,” said Brad Kehler, O.D., assistant chief medical information officer for VMG and a member of the I2 Team.

In Ophthalmology, where this project was piloted, the team-based view was expanded to include Emergency Department notes and tests.

“This has really improved the flow of patient care in our clinics. Having clinical notes, phone communications and test results specific for Ophthalmology under one tab has really saved time for providers who are otherwise fishing for this kind of information in a big sea of other office and hospital visits,” said assistant professor Janice Law, M.D.

A new StarPanel user interface is under development to complement the team-based views.