Marin General Hospital Implements New Clinical Care Stations

GREENBRAE, CA — Marin General Hospital is implementing a new application, Clinical Care Station, to enable electronic charting, electronic clinical records and medication bar coding. The system, which goes live on Monday, September 26th, will eliminate time-consuming paper charting and allow physicians and others involved in patient care to easily access data in real time.

The Paragon charting application, accessed through computers that are installed in patient rooms, allows bedside entry of clinical information and seamlessly interfaces with other clinical applications already in use at Marin General Hospital, leading to enhanced patient care through greater integration of data.

"This latest application allows physicians to see the patient data from their offices without having to travel to the hospital to pick up a paper chart," said Somayaji Bulusu, Chief Information Officer and Vice President of IT at Marin General Hospital. "It also permits multiple, simultaneous access by different caregivers, making it easier for everyone to see the same documentation without having to chase down a single chart used by many."

Among the advantages of the system, says Lynelle Takigawa, Director of Clinical Informatics at Marin General Hospital and the project leader for Clinical Care Station implementation, is instant verification prior to medications being administered, which reduces the potential for errors. "If someone has accidentally pulled the wrong prescription for a patient, when it is scanned into the system it will immediately trigger an alert."

"Everything that a nurse or therapist, case manager or social worker documents will be in the record," said Bulusu. "This is going to simplify and improve workflow and result in more efficient operations. For one thing, once data is entered it will not have to be reentered every time a patient moves from one department to the next."

Bulusu adds that the technology also allows Marin General Hospital potentially to share information with other institutions-insuring that a patient who needs treatment in another city or state would have his or her information made available to doctors there. "This could even be a life-saver for our patients," he says.

Takigawa cautions that although all staff has been trained on the new system, it may take a week or two before time savings are realized. "Nurses may initially take a little longer to do the assessment as they enter the data," she says, "but they'll come up to speed quickly." Patient handover between nurses at shift change will now occur in the patient's room, allowing increased patient involvement and better communication.

The implementation of Clinical Care Station is the first step toward demonstration of "meaningful use" of Certified EHR technology under federal regulations, which require every hospital to electronically document and chart patients in order to avoid future Medicare penalties. Takigawa says the next step will be a computerized physician order system, something that is coming next year. And Bulusu says that the hospital is already working on the protocols to create a Health Information Exchange, a central database that could be shared by everybody involved in a patient's care, whether hospital-affiliated or not.

"We wholeheartedly support the concept of going electronic with all records," said Bulusu. "It ultimately will enhance patient safety and bring enormous patient benefits as well as the potential for major cost savings."