By Sara Laporte, vice president of orthopedics and surgical services, Landmark Hospitals.
Now more than ever, it is critical for information across the care continuum to be accurate. Data plays a crucial role in patient care, from electronic health/medical records (EHR/EMR) to predictive analytics. Digitization has been widely adopted and successful in improving workflow efficiency, enhancing the accuracy of communications, mitigating risk and improving safety for the benefit of patients.
There has been one communication tool that’s remained a final, manual holdout from a bygone era: patient room information displays. Communicating key information such as a patient’s diagnosis, allergies and DNR info, these signs are often printed on paper or handwritten on whiteboards.
What is the solution? Hospitals need to bring digital signage into the 21st century.
Why digitize information room displays?
• Handwritten = prone to human error. According to The Joint Commission, communication errors with patients or administrators are cited as one of the top three core factors underlying hospital sentinel events. In addition, anyone in a rush is more likely to input the wrong information, or scribble something that can easily be mistaken by another caregiver.
• Double the work. The information nurses are inputting onto these signs is exactly what’s already in their database. Having to access the data and re-input it manually amounts to grunt work that distracts nurses from what they do best, which is caring for patients. Over any given twenty-four hour period, manually re-inputting information can amount to forty-five minutes to an hour of precious time — potentially more if the patient’s condition is complex.
• Instant Translation. Another advantage of digital signage is that it’s multilingual at the touch of a button. The latest census indicates that twenty percent of Americans speak a language other than English at home. With digital signage, patient information can cross the language barrier at the push of a button.
At Landmark Hospitals, we looked to digital paper, a new Hospital of the Future solution allowing hospitals 21st century digital signage. Known by most people as the screen in their eReader, digital paper mimics the look of printed paper and provides the advantages of digital media. Made by E Ink, digital paper has particles within microcapsules coated onto a thin film layer, which act as a form of ink that can be digitally updated.
Why hospital of the future digital paper?
• Versatility. E Ink screens are now available in a range of formats, from medical admission forms, to patient door signs, to bedhead and bedside patient care signs, to large-format patient communication boards.
• Connected. E Ink-enabled signage is linked to hospital databases, allowing for automatic information updates without the need for manual updates by time-pressed nursing staff. Each individual sign integrates with the system as a whole, so information on the patient care signs, door signs, and patient communication boards is always up-to-date and consistent.
• Sustainable. Digital paper screens require 99% less power to operate than LCD screens. Most hospital signs made with digital paper require only small batteries to operate, making them easy to deploy. The low battery usage allows for continuous use in patient environments, all day and night, with the comforting look and feel of paper and no light pollution.
• Non-light-emitting. Some companies have introduced digitized whiteboards, with EHR/EMR data automatically updated onto a TV screen in patient rooms. The light pollution from these screens, however, is a significant concern. The bright lights of LCD screens can disrupt a person’s circadian rhythm, essentially resetting their personal clock to disrupt sleep patterns.
DCI Health Technology’s hospital of the future digital paper room information displays and patient information displays helps Landmark Hospitals improve patient care, save time and reduce errors. Ultimately, however, digital technology in healthcare isn’t about technology at all. It’s about people who are trying to heal, and the nurses and doctors doing their absolute best to care for them.
In this environment, digital paper will play a growing role in the sharing of information in the most healthy, sustainable and efficient way possible for patients and caregivers.