KAMLOOPS — It's hectic, fast-paced and often unpredictable. Emergency Room doctors and nurses work quickly, rushing between patients and charting multiple cases at a time. But come April all that paperwork will be eliminated, and available at the touch of a button.
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"The history that the nurse takes, the history the physician takes, ordering of treatment investigations, treatment interventions and then when they are discharged, the beautiful thing is that this patient record is now immediately available to the next caring physician," says Dr. Anders Ganstal, Medical Director, RIH Emergency Department.
Royal Inland Hospital's ER department is transitioning into the digital world, implementing a new electronic medical records system. It will allow staff to input a patient's information directly into a computer, rather than writing it down first.
"Right now when a patient shows up to emergency they register using paper system for everything except their blue card, that's the only digital part, everything else is recorded on paper, we are getting rid of all of that."
In order to accommodate the new system, the emergency department is under renovation, and will be for the next 6 to 8 weeks.
"We're doing our best to make do with these renovations, the care people are receiving is not going to change, it's just the asthetic of it right now, the look of it is going to be a little bit different," says Ian Wood, Nursing Manager of Emergency Services.
The hospital's triage area has been temporarily relocated closer to the second-floor parkade entrance, and visitors are asked to not use the ER entrance when accessing the rest of the hospital, in order to avoid further headaches.
"You'll still come in the same doors instead of going to the desk, it'll be boarded off and you'll see some boards, you're just going to go off to the right and there will be some people to show you where the triage desk is, you'll move into the triage area, there will be a lineup and you'll be brought to the triage nurse and registered as the usual process," says Wood.
RIH is leading the way on this new initiative and will be the first hospital to implement the electronic medical records system within Interior Health.
"We've had a lot of our staff participate in design of the software system we'll be using, we went down to the United States to 2 different sites that use a similar system to the one we're adopting as well," says Dr. Ganstal.
On average, 200 patients access Royal Inland Hospital's Emergency Department, and it's now the 3rd busiest trauma centre in the province. By replacing the paper and pen with voice-recognition software, wait times could be reduced. The new technology won't change hospital care, it will only enhance it.
"The patients might see us staring at a computer as something different as opposed to a chart and I don't want that to be translated as not caring for the patient, that's really key, we're just using a different system."
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