When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, health systems needed quick solutions to several problems that appeared nearly overnight. At Sharp HealthCare in San Diego, California, leaders worked with Cerner to quickly solve new challenges related to documentation, orders and visibility to COVID-19 test results.
“While this is an ever-changing situation, it was amazing how quickly we all pulled together to help improve our clinicians’ efficiency, as well as try to keep everyone safe and reduce the risk of spreading the virus,” said Rick LeMoine, MD, chief medical information officer.
Streamlined documentation for everyone
To prepare for the anticipated surge of COVID-19 patients, Sharp HealthCare leaders knew they needed support from non-hospital physicians from different specialties. But that presented a new challenge: Many providers now working through the surge wouldn’t be familiar with the current hospital documentation.
“These providers are used to their regular workflows. Taking them out of their regular practice and introducing unfamiliar documentation would complicate things while handling COVID-19 patients,” said Scott Upton, MD, hospitalist and physician informaticist. “We wanted to remove that barrier, so we worked with Cerner to optimize Dynamic Documentation™ and make sure it was easy to quickly adapt and understand.”
To help the other specialists get up to speed, hospitalist leaders created several instructional videos on using the new streamlined documentation.
“We have ten optimized templates offering a standard efficient note for our providers,” said Upton. “We think it helped make documentation easier for those placed into an unexpected situation.”
Expanded scope and functionality
Before COVID-19, providers already used PowerChart Touch™, a mobile extension of the electronic health record. But after the pandemic hit, Sharp HealthCare leaders decided to expand functionality inside the solution.
“Previously, our providers could view patient information, take pictures and sign notes, but they weren’t able to place orders,” said LeMoine “We decided to let them order through PowerChart Touch. This helped improve provider efficiency and supported working remotely.”
Easy-to-view test results
Sharp HealthCare leaders needed to make it easier for clinicians to quickly see a patient’s COVID-19 test result, so they worked with Cerner to add that information into the banner bar within PowerChart®. Now, the patient’s COVID-19 status displays right below their name.
“We needed that information to be easily viewable,” said Janet Hanley, RN, BSN, MBA NEA-BC, chief nursing information officer and vice president patient technology, innovation, “It keeps us from repeatedly asking a patient about their status. It’s easy to see if a patient tested positive, negative or if we’re still awaiting their lab results. It helps our clinicians understand a patient’s status by pulling in screening documentation and lab results from outside our health system.”
In addition, Sharp HealthCare leaders updated questions asked of potential COVID-19 patients coming to Sharp HealthCare coming from outside their community. The new questions help quickly identify a potential or positive patient on the PowerChart banner to help facilitate appropriate isolation precautions and communication.
Other Cerner clients developed similar options to easily view COVID-19 testing results in the banner bar. For more information about the general release, visit the Cerner Model Experience website.
Other improvements are also already implemented or could help in the future. New asymptomatic screenings now automatically appear for any patient admitted into one of Sharp’s facilities. If a person is already in the system as suspected of having the virus, suppression logic prevents the screening from appearing. This helps streamline the manual screening process. Other improvements include a new COVID-19 worklist will assist clinicians in identifying, monitoring and caring for patients who test positive for the virus or those at high risk. Also, Sharp HealthCare and Cerner are considering enabling Bluetooth technology with CareAware Connect™ Voice, a solution to integrate communication, workflows and alarms on one mobile device. Using Bluetooth would provide a hands-free experience while clinicians wear personal protective equipment, allowing them to avoid touching equipment and potentially spread contamination.
“This crisis came at us fast, but we’re responding quickly,” said Hanley “We know we’re not done with the changes yet. As we implement new workflows and technology, we look for opportunities to apply these lessons to regular hospital operations once we return to a more normal life.”