As published in Nova Scotia Health, on Wednesday, September 21, 2022
By: Lauren MacDougall
It is now faster and easier for physicians and other authorized care team members to access the latest patient census and health data at emergency departments across Nova Scotia.
A new software solution – PatientTrak – is now available in emergency departments at Nova Scotia Health’s eight regional hospitals as well as IWK Health in Halifax that serves women, children youth, and families across the Maritimes.
The solution provides clinical teams with an overview of the number of patients in the various areas of the emergency department in real-time (e.g., triage, registration, waiting room, etc.) and informs clinical care decisions. Access to this new technology has the potential to positively impact the experience of clinical teams and patients and lead to improved patient health outcomes.
As patients arrive at an emergency department, they are entered into the PatientTrak system, immediately recording wait time, health concerns, and status. As data is entered at various stages of a patient’s visit, it is available on a centrally located digital whiteboard which can also be accessed from any emergency department computer. For example, details about treatments already received by a patient and what is pending (e.g., tests).
The digital whiteboard has replaced traditional physical whiteboards that would have previously been the hub for patient information in the emergency department. In the past, to access current patient information, clinical staff would have had to check a whiteboard and/or log into the clinical information system to access patient information.
“Compared to a traditional whiteboard, the digital whiteboard gives us a better sense of where the patient is in their progression through the emergency department”, says Dr. Everett Fuller, Emergency Department Site Lead, Cape Breton Regional Hospital. “It also raises awareness about the patient’s status and supports better communication within the care team”, indicates Dr. Fuller.
PatientTrak also offers custom clinical alerts relevant to the patient (e.g., allergies, interpreter or education required, pending tests, etc.). For hospitals that have a pharmacy on-site, an alert can be created to notify emergency department pharmacists that there is a patient medication requisition pending, the room where the patient is located, and the attending physician. This removes manual processes that previously may have taken longer and allows the physician to focus more on the patient rather than following up on requested treatments, etc.
For patients, PatientTrak offers improved privacy. With traditional whiteboards, more patient identifiable information would be displayed, which could be seen by other patients. With the digital whiteboard, only the first three characters of the patient’s name are shown on the large screen; however, a patient’s full details can be accessed on emergency department computers by authorized health care team members.
PatientTrak further advances Nova Scotia’s Action for Health Strategic Plan to improve health care across the province by being responsive and resilient and by exploring and implementing innovative solutions to optimize resources and capacity while ensuring quality and safety. And, by implementing IT solutions to improve patient care, access, and flow across the system.
“This is an important step forward in supporting clinicians and improving the experience of Nova Scotians that come to us for care,” says Derek Spinney, Vice President of Corporate Services, Infrastructure, and Chief Financial Officer for Nova Scotia Health. “Most importantly, there is also an opportunity to realize improved patient health outcomes as the result of physicians having faster access to information needed for clinical care decisions.”
Improved access to timely patient information increases awareness of patient wait times at the various levels of care, potentially streamlining patient flow through emergency departments and improving the experience of both clinical care teams and patients are some of the possible benefits that are on the horizon because of the PatientTrak technology.
“We are excited to see the improvement in workflow visibility and reduced wait time Nova Scotia Health has experienced while using our system. Emergencies require fast response and real-time information and PatientTrak delivers this for staff and patients,” says PatientTrak CEO James Hermann.
It is too early to measure the full impact of PatientTrak, but there is potential as more frontline staff utilize this technology. “More timely access to improved data will help with future planning and policies around wait times”, says Dr. Fuller. “We will be closely monitoring this and will report on our progress.”