For clinicians, using an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system when they’re traveling between clinics and hospitals often isn’t all that convenient. To have the information they need with them usually means they have to bring stacks of paper charts or find a computer they can use to log into the EHR system that may or may not be near the room where they’re seeing their patient(s).
So I’m keen to share a bit about how Pediatric Associates has been testing a solution to make it easier for its mobile clinicians to use its EHR system from wherever their patients are. A privately owned pediatric practice in the Seattle area with seven clinical locations, it has 80 providers and sees approximately 250,000 patient visits per year. Since November, the practice has had several of its clinicians using PrimeMOBILE, a Windows 8 app developed by its EHR vendor, Greenway, to provide access to the most common functionality in the Greenway PrimeSUITE EHR. Pediatric Associates has been piloting the use of this app on Windows 8, Intel-based mobile devices for three scenarios: doctors seeing admitted patients at the local children’s hospital, rounding on newborns at local hospitals, and doctor-patient interaction during wellness and sick visits at their clinics.
I recently caught up with Brock Morris, Chief Information Officer, at Pediatric Associates to see how the pilot’s been going and here are a few highlights from our conversation.
How did user adoption go with your clinicians?
That’s one of the most interesting pieces of this. Initially, there was a lot of concern about Windows 8. Everyone had heard it was such a different operating system and questioned whether or not it would be easy to use. But our clinicians really like using the tiled, intuitive user interface with touch and have adopted it much more quickly than I expected.
How is it helping your providers be more efficient and provide better care?
Our doctors are especially seeing the benefits of using PrimeMOBILE on Windows 8 mobile devices while they’re at local hospitals.
They can easily flip through tiles in a patient’s chart to review immunizations, medications, vitals, the problem list and more. It really helps them to quickly get the information they need right before they go into the hospital room so they have an understanding of the patient’s current condition.They can also update information at the point of care, not only patient information but also things like ambulatory charges, which are notoriously hard to capture. They can even take a picture of something—a burn or rash, for example—and import it right into the patient’s chart through the mobile app.
For newborn rounding, one of the things that’s very exciting for us is that we can start these patients off with an electronic record before they’ve even been to the clinic. So we’re carrying them straight into the electronic world from birth.
What has the reaction been from patients?
I have doctors tell me that when they walk into the room with their Windows 8 mobile device, the cool factor goes up. But it’s more than just being cool, of course. There’s an expectation now from our patients and their families that we’ll use technology as a tool in our practice and to them it’s a gauge of quality—it’s a sign that they’re going to receive a high quality of care.
What has the feedback been from IT?
For us in IT, we’re always concerned about security and manageability. The fact that our clinicians are using Windows 8 mobile devices brings a comfort level with it. We can manage those devices with all the tools that we use to manage the rest of our Windows infrastructure, which not only makes it easier on our IT staff to integrate them, it also represents a cost savings. In addition, Windows 8 Bitlocker Drive Encryption, which allows us to encrypt an entire drive, is huge for us because no matter how hard we try to keep PHI off mobile devices, it’s almost an inevitability.
What are your future plans?
We are starting to plan how we’ll roll out the PrimeMOBILE app on Windows 8 devices to all of our providers.
We’re also looking at other Windows 8 apps our clinicians can use, whether existing apps or custom apps that we develop. Now that our doctors see the potential of Windows 8 and how it can change the way we deliver medicine, it’s acting as a catalyst—they’re coming up with ideas for more ways they can use it to help them deliver better care.
We’re also looking at how we can use Windows 8 from a patient standpoint. For example, we would love to be able to hand out Windows 8 mobile devices to patients in the waiting room so they can fill out health history forms and play educational games on them.
We’re excited about all the different ways this technology could help us achieve our goal of delivering the best patient care we can.
A big thanks to Brock and Pediatric Associates for allowing me to share their Windows 8 pilot progress here. I look forward to sharing more real-world examples of how health organizations are using Windows 8 to improve efficiency and care quality in the coming weeks and months.