From the OR to the Medical Office, Patients Benefit from Surgical Oncology Dept. Technology Advances
Oceanside, N.Y.— Inside the operating room, the Surgical Oncology Department at South Nassau Communities Hospital is known for its use of patient-centered, minimally-invasive surgical technologies to eradicate large and small malignancies and other masses. The patient-centered technologies eliminate the need for large, shark bite incisions, prompting healing, reducing blood loss and facilitating a quicker recovery.
The department has taken this commitment from the operating room and is now employing it in its medical office. It is employing a comprehensive computer programming system for the modern-day medical office that has all but eliminated the hassles, delays and tedious filing caused by the traditional medical record system.
While there’s no doubting that the technology has increased the department’s efficiency and communications, it is proving to benefit the patients as well. They are experiencing minimal idle time after checking in with the receptionist and throughout the visit. This is proving to alleviate stress and enhance the overall experience.
"The system is increasing the personal attention and interaction the patient care team has with our patients," said Rajiv Datta, MD, Director, Surgical Oncology Department. "Each component of the system is integrated to permit transmission of all patient information and communication across the spectrum of the department."
The system is accessible from any location with a networked computer. So, whether the user is a receptionist, technician, nurse or doctor, there is no need to scramble from one location to another or place calls to other staff members to access patient information. Additionally, users do not have to log in and out of multiple applications.
"What we are seeing," says Dr. Datta, "is increased quality time with patients, not quantity time attributed to moving around the office to access file cabinets and multiple computers to retrieve records and information."
A scheduling program that is integrated with automated appointment reminders serves as the entry point to the system. The program allows physicians and staff to quickly access and view appointments and patient histories and quickly provides reports of missed and cancelled appointments. In a busy office, this information facilitates prompt follow up calls to re-schedule appointments that have been missed or cancelled. The automated appointment reminder calls scheduled patients automatically at a pre-defined time. The patient then has the option to confirm, reschedule or cancel the appointment.
After the patient checks in to the office, the system transfers to an automatic check-in module. This module is used to tracks patients while they are in the office. "For example," says office manager Kris Smith, "we are able to tell which patients are waiting and how long they have been waiting; the rooms that patients are being seen in; what are they being seen for; which patients have had their vital signs taken, and which patients are in the process of checking out."
Check-in also has an option for patient photos, which assist in personalizing patient care as well as improving patient safety, making it easier for to identify patients. At the end of a visit, the patient check out module assembles all the important documents and information to be given to the patient. The front staff is electronically notified to print out the patient-care plan for the patient, highlight any messages or reminders ordered by the doctor, and reschedule patients for follow-up appointments.
At the conclusion of the visit, the system’s EMR allows doctors to immediately file notes that were recorded during a visit. Doctors are able to document patient encounters through templates, transcription, speech recognition, or handwriting. The doctor’s notes complement the patient information recorded during the visit. The feature automatically prompts doctors for tasks such as lab orders, prescriptions, reminders and diagnosis codes. Doctors and office staff are also able to view a comparison of the previous five visit notes within a few seconds. Upon completion of a note, the doctor can send electronic orders to schedule follow-up appointments and request special tasks and reminders while a patient is checking out.
"Superbill" and "Prescriptions" are other patient-centered features of the system. "Superbill" allows charges to be captured directly from an EMR or through Check In/Check Out, ensuring correct coding and eliminating the need for staff to manually gather patient charges and demographics and print out charge slips. This saves time for patients and creates time for staff and doctors to allot to patient care.
Although surgical oncology doctors do not write many prescriptions, when they do, the "Prescriptions" feature checks for drug interactions and provides a detailed explanation of interactions as well as possible methods of resolution. The system also contains a detailed drug database and checks the patient’s allergy profile for medications and the patient’s active diagnosis for any contraindications.
"This is just the leading edge of our commitment to this technology," said
Dr. Datta. "As the technology evolves for the benefit of the patient, we will be the first online to upgrade our system."
South Nassau is one of the region’s largest hospitals, with 435 beds, more than 820 physicians and 2,200 employees. Located in Oceanside, NY, the Hospital is an acute–care, not-for-profit teaching hospital that provides state-of-the-art care in cardiac, oncologic, orthopedic, bariatric, pain management, mental health and emergency services. In addition to its extensive outpatient specialty centers, South Nassau boasts Long Island’s first gamma knife and New York State’s first acute angioplasty program. Its Emergency Services Department is a designated Stroke Center and the American Society of Bariatric Surgery has named South Nassau a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence. South Nassau is a member of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System and a partner in the Winthrop-South Nassau University Health System.