Much time and effort goes into developing, implementing and supporting interoperability between clinical systems such as EMRs, nurse call systems, physiological monitors, RTLS beacons, paging consoles, physician schedules and so on. Functioning under agreed-upon mechanisms, typically referred to as “interoperability standards,” these systems exchange notifications and information to help coordinate patient care.
I was pleased to represent Voalte recently at the HIMSS19 Interoperability Showcase, where a myriad of healthcare vendors exchanged thousands of messages, transactions and notifications. Voalte Platform was part of the Mother and Infant Mortality Prevention use case, along with AllScripts, Cerner, Epic, GuardRFID, Philips and Smiths Medical. While all systems performed seamlessly, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of focus on human interoperability:
- How can the nurse view a patient monitor waveform notification?
- How is the rounding physician notified of a critical lab result?
- How can the Labor and Delivery team view contraction rate and fetal heart rate on demand from a remote location?
It seems clinicians are the proverbial “last mile” in the healthcare interoperability ecosystem. Delivering an actionable message to the appropriate clinical role(s) at the right time is a complex feat that involves alert sources, alert managers, and alert communicators such as Voalte Platform to work in unison. Orchestrating information between these systems involves technical interoperability, but completing the communication loop to invoke patient care requires human interoperability:
- How are nurse call alerts escalated to the available Charge Nurse?
- Who is the on-call Anesthesiologist and how does he or she prefer to be contacted?
- What is the nomenclature and ethnography unique to the organization?
This is a standard discovery process for the Voalte Clinical Workflow Solutions (CWS) team, which aims to bridge the gap between technology and the human element of patient care. Our clinicians and solutions engineers walk through each unit to understand current communication practices and technologies, then analyze and design more efficient clinical workflows using new technology.
Many workflows require cross analysis of data from disparate systems to arrive at an informed clinical decision, which is why clinical systems are much more valuable when they integrate as part of the overall healthcare technology ecosystem. Similarly, when our clinicians can connect seamlessly with the notifications and information generated by these systems, they can improve the quality of care they provide.
Dustin Lake is Senior Sales Engineer at Voalte.