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A Plea for Help

July 3, 2008
by aguerra
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Please read below and help a fellow healthcare IT professional out with some advice. If you e-mail Nancy directly, please also publish your response here so everyone can benefit. (I've bolded some areas for emphasis)

Mr. Guerra,

I work as an Internal Consultant in Quality & Informatics for a large nonprofit health care system that provides both medical coverage and care. We have been using an EMR in our outpatient clinics for the past five years and will be implementing an inpatient EMR into our hospital units within the next year.

Our hospital is older and was not designed for the use of computers for inpatient care. The biggest challenge is determining the placement of computers for our Family Birthing Unit (FBU). The whole FBU department has very little free space, has a fast paced and crowded nursing station which limits the amount of staff that can be present at one time. Due to the chaotic nature of the department, nursing management has requested no additional computers at the nursing station.

There are currently computers in the patient’s rooms using a labor and delivery program that will be interfaced to the new EMR. The problem arises where to put additional computers for the many doctors, residents, midwives, nurses, nursing students and the delivery room specialists to use when the mother and baby are sleeping without going through the expense of a major remodel.

We have discussed mounting the computers on the walls in the hallway by the patient’s rooms. Our issues with this proposal are finding a computer that will fit within the 3 inches allowed by the fire code and medical record security concerns. Computers on wheels are out of the question because the FBU does not have space to store them.

Has anyone experienced this problem, of the placement of computers, in an older hospital that was not designed for computer use with patient care workflow? What has worked well for them and what would they have done differently? Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Nancy L. Smith
Quality & Informatics

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