Documentation System Improves ED Communication, Efficiency

By Christina Orlovsky, contributor

With emergency departments across the country feeling the strain of overcrowding and overburdened staff, workflow and communication issues are a constant concern. One tried-and-true method of overcoming these challenges is bedside documentation.

Since 1997, Dallas, Texas-based T-System, Inc., has been providing clinical documentation and information solutions to emergency departments and urgent care centers across the country, with the goal of helping facilities provide the best patient care possible through efficient processes and effective communication methods.

With paper documentation systems, including the T System for Physicians and the T System for Nurses, as well as the technologically advanced T SystemEV Emergency Department Information System, clinicians are able to access patient information right at their fingertips and complete charts in a timely, simplified fashion.

"There are some overarching benefits to the T System documentation tools, whether you’re using paper or the T SystemEV," explains Suzy Wier, chief nursing officer for T-System, Inc.

"A lot of times in the industry, people buy a big horizontal platform that’s configurable and can be made any way the facility wants it. What happens then is if the nurses build it, it covers nursing and nurse workflow, but nothing else," she continues. "We’ve taken the broad picture and created a well-balanced documentation system that supports clinical and point-of-care issues, as well as critical quality indicators, right at the bedside. We put medical decisionmaking in the hands of the clinicians at the bedside--it’s right there and it’s easy to do."

The T SystemEV, a touch-screen system implemented on computers that can be wheeled to the ED patient’s bedside, allows for physician-nurse collaboration by combining both physician and nurse documentation in one easy-to-read system. Additionally, the system incorporates registration and triage information, patient tracking and status, computerized order entry for physicians and nurses, discharge instructions, prescription writing, and administrative, billing and coding tools, to allow everyone involved in a patient’s care to access information in the same format.

In addition to providing a benefit to nurses, physicians and other ED clinicians and administrative professionals, electronic documentation systems also serve as an important patient safety and satisfaction tool.

"Patients are very receptive to providers who do their documentation at the bedside," Wier explains. "Historically, patients don’t often see nurses write anything down, because they do it at the nurses’ station. But with the work station on wheels, the nurse can take more time with the patient at the bedside. Nursing is very hands-on; this allows nurses to have more of that parallel time with the patient, and the patient likes that the nurse is actually documenting what they’re saying."

With all the benefits electronic documentation systems like T SystemEV provide both the clinicians and the patients in the emergency department, Wier insists they are not to be implemented with the expectation that all other communication processes will be eliminated. Rather, they are meant to improve processes that aren’t working and complement those that are.

"Documentation is not meant to replace critical thinking," she concluded. "It’s not a system that replaces communication among physicians and nurses, but one that allows for greater transparency so they’re all singing out of the same hymnal."

For more information, visit the T-System Web site.

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