Electronic Health Records have enabled significant change to the healthcare system as patient data can be found in aggregated electronic form instead of among piles of paper. But what happens when such systems crash? Will the whole foundation of patient safety crash?
In recent months, there has been relatively frequent news about problems with Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Disruptions in EHRs hinder patient care considerably since the patient data is not available unequivocally. In such situations, patient safety is inevitably endangered. Real-time data is vital to patient safety. This also leads to physicians and care staff having to search for data, which means time taken directly away from patient care.
Introducing Plan B
When the EHR is unavailable, access to the patient’s medical reports and medication records is lost in the same instance. Patient data is no longer printed so often; everything is in electronic form.
If the EHR cannot be reached, alternative practices must be introduced. Hospitals and healthcare centres have access to backup systems for these kinds of situations. If the disruption is extensive, even the backup systems may be unreachable, however.
In the event of a failure in both the EHR and the backup system, papers and pens are very often introduced.
New data is recorded on pieces of paper and previous patient data is often established by asking the patients themselves. As for establishing the medical reports, this is a little more difficult considering situations where the critical condition of the patient prevents you from obtaining the information directly from the patient.
Delays and Congestions in Patient Care
Ignorance about the patient’s care history and the doctor’s orders causes patient care delays and congestions. Without patient data, it is simply difficult to provide care. Any delay in care poses a serious risk especially when caring for a critically ill patient is at stake.
The next few days and weeks will see days filled with problems. Surgeries may have to be postponed and queues at Emergency grow. Delay is also caused by having to enter the data written on paper into the electronic system once more when the system is restored. In addition to this, the double entries of data may cause documentation errors.
Ascertaining Data Availability
Healthcare professionals wrestle with these same problems regardless of the EHR. Since it is often hard to prepare for interruptions in advance, the situation becomes all the more difficult. Even fully tested systems cannot necessarily prepare for problems in the infrastructure and the data blackouts they cause.
So, here is our tip: ascertaining data availability on three levels, namely the mobile device, the Medanets server and the EHR.
1. The mobile device
The work of the care staff can continue despite losing the connection to the EHR, the backup system and the Medanets server. The patient data preceding the failure is available through the mobile device and the Medanets app. The healthcare professional participating in the patient’s care can then view, the patient’s valid medications and the observation values measured earlier, for instance. As for the new data to be entered, this is saved on the mobile device app synchronised automatically with the system when the failure is repaired.
This practice is based on transferring the patient data to the device when the nurse logs in to the app as the shift begins. All the patient data needed by the unit in question will then be available and displayed. The data is prepared for the device so that the data does not need to be searched again every time it is accessed and so that it is available regardless of the wireless network dead spots.
2. The Medanets server
If the connection to the EHR is lost, but the connection from the mobile device to the Medanets server remains, patient care can continue with the data available. Newly entered data on the patient will also be displayed among the other professionals participating in the care even though the data is not yet synchronised into the EHR. The data is saved on the Medanets service and, in turn, from there it is transferred to the mobile device for display to nurses.
3. The EHR
The Medanets system utilises the patient data in the EHR and brings wireless data for display to nurses. Not all the data in the EHR is brought into the mobile app, but only the data needed by the unit in question.
The data entered during a system interruption remains saved in the mobile app and will be transferred to the proper place in the EHR once the connections are restored. When the system is restored, the data becomes real-time data immediately without any need for the extra double entries of data.
Ascertaining the availability of the data on three levels enables accessing patient data even in the event of an extensive blackout. The foundation of patient safety improves when you have real-time data and can give the patient the right kind of care in accordance with the latest patient data.