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Magazine names Madigan 'Most Wired'

Madigan Army Medical Center Public Affairs

Published: 03:14PM July 10th, 2014

Madigan Army Medical Center earned the honor of being named one of the Most Wired hospitals in 2014 thanks to its use of technology across the board to positively impact patient care.

The Most Wired designation is awarded by the Hospitals and Health Networks magazine, which recognizes hospitals that are making progress toward greater health information technology adoption.

“Madigan is just a leader in innovation and really embraces modern technology and clinical workflow and the use of technology in healthcare,” said Rick Barnhill, the deputy chief and program manager of clinical informatics.

This year marks the 11th time in 12 years that Madigan was named Most Wired, which Barnhill thinks isbecause of “how forward we can lean compared to other facilities.”

Madigan was the first Army hospital to create a clinical informatics division, which uses information technology, computer science and knowledge management to improve the quality, efficiency and safety of patient care. The division “bends technology” as it provides in-house expertise to create products for Madigan providers and staff.

“This is tailored to meet the need of the user ... so that you get the information you need to accomplish the mission that day,” Barnhill said.

Informatics works closely with clinics to develop creative solutions that have real impacts on patient care, such as increasing interconnectivity between medical devices and patients’ electronic records to reduce the potential for human error and make it easier to share data overall.

“Here at Madigan most of the monitors in the hospital feed the electronic health systems, so you’re not reading a blood pressure machine and typing it into the system; it’s actually feeding it directly,” Barnhill said.

Nursing stations also boast central monitors as well as nurse status boards, which give staff information on patients’ vital signs, remind them to do pain assessments, and sport color countdowns to remind staff to conduct certain procedures within set timeframes.

These automatic connections between patients’ vital monitors and central data systems are even more impactful in areas such as pediatric care because babies, for instance, can’t communicate changes in how they feel, said Tim Wanc, the media director of informatics. With patient monitors directly connected with the nurses’ monitors, multiple people can notice alarms and react instantly to them.“It’s a potential lifesaver,” Wanc said.

Madigan is improving lives in other areas as well, to include pain management. In concert with the pain clinic, the informatics team developed computerized pain assessments that tease out more accurate levels of pain than traditional 1-10 scales. Patients are given tablets to complete the surveys, although they can also use their home computers or smartphones; the survey questions are tailored to their individual responses.

“You can kind of get a more standardized way to care for the pain and hopefully improve the overall quality of life of the patient,” said Barnhill.

Behind the scenes, Madigan’s informatics team worked with providers to make entering patient notes easier, freeing up time for doctors to directly care for patients. They changed the patient notes forms to make them flow better, created team documents so that more clinical staff can contribute to the notes, and allowed providers to dictate notes.

The team also created software to allow providers to compile more useful reports from patient information both on the individual patient level— getting comprehensive pictures of patients’ care needs— and on the macro patient population level— allowing the hospital to monitor the overall patient population for medical trends.

Barnhill said that the division embraces the “I Am the Patient Experience campaign”. “We consider ourselves a part of that too. If we don’t do our job right, then people aren’t going to have access to information and you can end up spending more time looking for things as opposed to taking care of patients.”

Madigan’s innovative health technology products are finding themselves being used outside of the hospital’s doors as well. The pain clinic survey technology, which will soon be used for diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as well, is already being used at four hospitals and will soon go out to all 55 hospitals in the Department of Defense, said Barnhill.

The Patient Centered Medical Home dashboard, and software on kiosks and tablets that allow patient check-ins and surveys, will be shared with other hospitals too.

“We actually have several products that were built here that are now going to be used tri-service wide,” said Barnhill.

Future projects include using technology to make patient visits more efficient by giving them a printout of instructions when they check in, such as going to the lab or getting x-rays prior to seeing their doctor face-to-face, and allowing patients to conduct more at-home monitoring of their chronic conditions.

“I would love to find even more ways to engage directly with the patient, both here in the facility and at home to improve just wellness and hopefully reduce the need to come see us,” said Barnhill.