by Karen Carroll PhD RN, NEA-BC, HIMSS Nursing Informatics Committee Member, Director, Nursing Informatics & Innovation, Ann & Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
During our recent move to a new hospital, nursing informatics led and contributed in many ways. Our chief contributions included: educating on new technology, analyzing workflows and implementing enhancements.
Our old campus hospital was built in a traditional manner. This tradition extended from the history of wards within hospitals, and our units had a centralized nursing station with a couple of isolation rooms right next to the nursing station and a unit or ward built around the hub of the nursing station. This set-up provided ease of communication and sight. It was easy to keep updated on the condition and workload of staff. The hallways and rooms were crowded and noisy; it was not an easy environment upon which patient privacy or rest was promoted.
Our new hospital provides private rooms, spacious corridors, and de-centralized nursing stations. There are separate zones for paces for patients and families and staff. There are also spaces where staff can prepare to care for patients, and use procedure areas. In planning for this environment, we could analyze and develop communication pathways for enhancing patient safety and abilities of a unit to provide nursing care efficiently and effectively.
The technology used for this goal included:
- nurse call system,
- RFID devices, and
The nurse call system notifies the nurse via a phone message whether a patient requires water, to use the bathroom or is experiencing pain. Information on the status of the patient monitor alarms also comes across.
The RFID device cancels the call priorities that are not as urgent in nature, such as water and toilet. Other calls, for example, monitor alarms and pain, require a push of the cancel button inside the room. The RFID device communicates that a nurse is present in the room and facilitates knowledge by other staff members’ location of staff. This revised method of caring for our patients required analysis, commitment to aid understanding and developing workflows, planning for education, and a commitment to a robust support for implementation and post-implementation analysis and revisions.
It also required incorporating communication between nursing and providers. Nursing informatics linked, and continues to link and lead, with colleagues from biomedical engineering, information technology, nursing leadership, nursing staff, physicians and advanced practice nurses, to maximize this technology as an assistive mechanism for planning care.
Karen Carroll PhD, RN, NEA-BC, is a member of the HIMSS Nursing Informatics Committee and Director, Nursing Informatics & Innovation, Ann & Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.