October 04, 2003

Bedside Manner Goes High Tech

Baptist Hospital, operated by Baptist Health South Florida, is a 551-bed facility in Miami conducting a pilot program that may well presage a transformation in patient care.

By Ted Kinni, Contributing Writer

Baptist Hospital, operated by Baptist Health South Florida, is a 551-bed facility in Miami conducting a pilot program that may well presage a transformation in patient care. Its transformation of a hospital bed into a highly personalized technology center is driven by a suite of computerized equipment and software installed at each bedside in the hospital's 51-bed Cardiovascular Step-down Unit. The unit monitors patients with complex heart diseases.

"I have been a nurse for 30 years and I don't think there is any one product or opportunity to pilot that I have been more excited about," says Joan Clark, Baptist Hospital's VP for Patient Care and Chief Nursing Officer. "It's break-through technology."

Clark is referring to PatientStation, from Cardinal Health subsidiary Pyxis Corp. (which competes with Omnicell, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen's Bridge Medical). It consists of a networked computer next to the patient's bed with a flat screen monitor that swings over the bed. It not only brings information, but also dispenses appropriate medications and supplies, individually personalized for each patient at the point of care.

The monitor is a portal for both patients and caregivers. From their beds, patients can access the Internet, concierge services, health-related education programming, television and movies, as well as their own medical records and billing info. There is also a Web cam for friends and family who can't make it to the hospital.

Doctors can use the system to access the patient's records, test results, x-rays and ultrasounds on the spot. They can also access databases that offer specialized medical information pertaining to the patient's treatment, and can instantly send prescriptions to the hospital pharmacy.

The most revolutionary aspect of the system, Clark says, is its ability to dispense medications and supplies. "A problem we have had with nursing workflow back to the Dark Ages is that the supplies and the medications aren't necessarily where the nurse needs them in order to provide a timely response to the patient," says Clark. "I was constantly walking back and forth to get the equipment that I need, to get the supplies that I need, and to get the medications that I need."

Now, these items, as specified for each individual patient, are placed in secured cubicles stored in locked, computer-operated drawers attached to the system that the nurses have nicknamed "minibars." When a patient needs medication, the nurse validates it on the screen, and a drawer opens containing a bar-coded "cubie" enclosing the exact medication and dose prescribed for the patient.

Patient safety and the timely delivery of care are significantly improved. Studies suggest that as many as 98,000 patients per year die from medical errors and the average award in a lawsuit involving a medication error is $636,844. Further, the performance of doctors, nurses and pharmacists -- those people with the most critical and costly skills in the hospitals -- is enhanced. The system streamlines operations while personalizing the patient's stay.

Patient data is very sensitive, so security is paramount to the success of the pilot. PatientStation offers various levels of access depending on the sensitivity of information, supplies and medications. It employs a combination of ID badges, passwords and fingerprint technology for security.

As a result of the pilot project's success, Baptist Health South Florida plans to install consoles at every bed in its five-hospital network, a $33 million investment over the next 10 years.


Posted by Craig at October 4, 2003 11:47 AM