Patient info goes high tech

Published 12:11 am Saturday, September 22, 2012

Registered Nurse Ciara Jones demonstrates new technology at Sentara Obici Hospital, which keeps patients and families updated on scheduled events. The technology went live on Wednesday.

Patients and families will be better informed under a new electronic records system rolling out at Sentara Obici, the Suffolk hospital’s Nursing Administration director of critical and intermediate care said.

“SmartRoom is a system where patients and their families are able to see what’s scheduled … and ultimately test results,” Marianne Walston said.

In what Walston called an important step in a broader rollout of SmartRoom technology, Obici on Wednesday went live with inpatient scheduling.

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Inpatient treatments, procedures, or tests expected to last over 30 minutes are now planned and scheduled through Sentara eCare, the hospital system’s electronic medical record.

“It’s going to lay the foundation for that (smart room) technology,” Walston said.

The goal is for patients and families to be more involved in care. “Especially in this day and age, patients are much more educated, and partner in their care more than historically,” Walston added.

Connecting patients and families to inpatient scheduling “brings them into the planning arena.”

Under the system, whiteboards in rooms inform patients of daily appointments and the names of doctors, nurses and other staff caring for them, and staff of patient preferences or precautions.

“It’s like a calendar for the patient, really,” Walston said.

Despite “a few little issues we have worked through,” adapting to the new technology has been relatively painless, she said.

“The nurses so far have really liked it — we were afraid it was going to be cumbersome. It actually has been a very good thing for everybody, I think.

“We have gotten good compliance with our staff. There was a hesitance to put the (scheduled) times up there at first. It keeps us to task, making sure we don’t forget to tell the patient in the rush of the day.”

Registered Nurse Ciara Jones said, “It’s been going real good. It’s giving us the opportunity to actually prepare the patients prior to going down to procedures, and it makes them as well as their families aware of what time they are having procedures.”

Obici’s next step toward becoming a fully-fledged SmartRoom hospital is to make information available to patients via electronic devices such as iPad and smart phones, Walston said.

“Sooner or later, we will also have two-way communication with patients and families. Technology is more mobile all the time … and it’s best to be involved.”