Technologies Proposals for Medical Center
Six proposals were submitted to the Committee for System Selection overall. The proposed systems encompass a wide range of services to meet various existing or potential needs of Sunnyvale General Medical Center (SGMC). The first proposal comes from the Emergency Department and describes several electronic systems aimed at the optimization of the facility’s operation and internal procedures. These systems include an electronic medical record (EMR) system to collect, store, and retrieve more effectively the information regarding the health of the facility’s patients. The proposal also includes a physician and nurse documentation system and a physician computerized order entry system.
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The second proposal is from the Nutrition and Dietary Services; it proposes automated food services, such as menu creation, calorie count analysis, and patients’ dietary restrictions and preferences examination. The services are aimed at optimizing food delivery and distribution, reducing the amount of wasted food, and raising patient satisfaction. The third proposal is from the Physical Plant Operations Department claiming the necessity to upgrade the existing airflow operating system to properly manage the MOB addition. The fourth proposal is from the Auxiliary and Business Services Department that offers an electronic system facilitating mobile communications and videoconferencing. The system is aimed at improving the communication between patients and the members of the medical staff.
The fifth proposal is submitted by the Human Resources Management Department to describe a technology that provides the facility’s employees and medical staff with secured access. The technology is based on issuing ID cards to the facility’s employees that allow facilitated access distribution and making payments. The sixth proposal is from the Chief of the Medical Staff and Business and Auxiliary Services. It suggests acquiring the iRobot technology, which is a robotic solution implying the use of telemedicine technologies and electronic health record integration. The iRobot technology is essentially aimed at allowing physicians to “visit” their patients from remote locations by connecting to a robot possessing a wide range of functions for facilitated interaction with patients. The proposals vary in terms of the costs of proposed technologies as well as the facility’s needs that they aim to meet.
The selected proposal is number one, which offers the Emergency Department Information Service (EDIS). The technology was evaluated as the most suitable for the current needs of SGMC among all technologies and solutions described in the presented proposals. The criteria for evaluation were as follows:
- Optimization of operation. It implies that that the selected technology should contribute to improving the facility’s internal procedures with the purpose to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of interactions among the employees and the medical staff of SGMC as well as between them and patients or any other stakeholders.
- Potential for increasing patient satisfaction.
- Reliability of the technology; its background and feedback from other users.
- Cost-effectiveness and potential profits: whether or not the technology can help the facility save money in the long run.
- Possible complications: potential obstacles and difficulties that SGMC may face when implementing the selected system.
The EDIS showed the best results when evaluated according to the criteria described above. First of all, it addressed the issue of optimizing internal procedures. An electronic system encompasses patient records, physician and nurse records, various types of documentation, order entries, and other aspects of the facility’s operation, which makes such a system highly beneficial for making the procedures more effective and efficient (Farley et al., 2013). Two main aspects of the EDIS and similar systems should be emphasized, as these aspects can help assess a system’s level of quality. First of all, an electronic record system, as much as any information service, needs to ensure safety, i.e. to guarantee that data can be inputted, stored, and retrieved in a way that prevents unauthorized persons to access it. Many problems with using electronic record systems occur due to the lack of safety considerations (Sitting & Singh, 2012). The second aspect is a system’s potential to contribute to the improvement of coordination of care. Coordination of care refers to the cooperation of the medical staff members and their communication with patients. Many practitioners agree that coordination of care is greatly improved by electronic information services (Goetz, Kuzel, Feng, DeShazo, & Love, 2012). From this perspective, the EDIS is also found to be likely to increase patient satisfaction, as it will improve the quality of care and communication with patients.
Concerning the cost-effectiveness criterion, there is still an ongoing debate among researchers and practitioners on how electronic record systems should be used in medical facilities to save money. Some studies suggest that saving money is possible when such systems are used to the fullest (application of advanced functions as opposed to limiting the use of a system to basic functions) and the staff is properly trained to benefit from the system as much as possible (Bar-Dayan et al., 2013). This refers to the next criterion: SGMC is expected to spend a significant amount of resources on introducing the proposed technology. Expected complications include training the staff and transforming the existing office operations, which is always a challenge. However, these obstacles are expected to be overcome with relative ease because there are a lot of examples and guidelines on introducing the EDIS. They will help SGMC avoid the undesirable effects of modifying the existing internal procedures. The cost of implementing the system fits the Senior Administrative Team’s budget.
The Selection Committee is also entitled to provide recommendations for the authors of the proposals that have not been selected. Although all of the selected technologies are potentially beneficial, the proposals to employ them were not appealing enough in terms of the current needs of SGMC. Proposals should not only address the issue of why something that is proposed is necessary for someone to whom it is proposed. Many things can be found beneficial, but not all of them can be selected for funding. Proposals should be more specific and consider how the facility will benefit from selecting a certain proposal on a large scale and in the long run. For example, the Nutrition and Dietary Services’ proposal of an automated foodservice system explains how customer satisfaction can be increased through the use of the technology but fails to recognize that the facility where the proposal is submitted may lack the necessary resources for implementing the system. If there is no well-coordinated patient information electronic system, the U-Dine automated foodservice system will not work properly. Creating menus and distributing food to patients according to their restrictions and preferences will not be enabled until U-Dine is integrated with the hospital’s electronic record system and databases.
In conclusion, future proposals should stress how the proposed technologies will make the work of SGMC more effective and more efficient, how patient satisfaction will be increased, and how the facility will attain a competitive advantage. Instead of merely describing certain technologies (like the iRobot technology in the sixth proposal), proposals should clearly explain how certain functions and features will contribute to the improvement and development of SGMC.
Bar-Dayan, Y., Saed, H., Boaz, M., Misch, Y., Shahar, T., Husiascky, I., & Blumenfeld, O. (2013). Using electronic health records to save money. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 20(1), 17-20.
Farley, H. L., Baumlin, K. M., Hamedani, A. G., Cheung, D. S., Edwards, M. R., Fuller, D. C.,…& Nielson, J. (2013). Quality and safety implications of emergency department information systems. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 62(4), 399-407.
Goetz, G. D., Kuzel, A. J., Feng, L. B., DeShazo, J. P., & Love, L. E. (2012). EHRs in primary care practices: Benefits, challenges, and successful strategies. The American Journal of Managed Care, 18(2), 48-54.
Sittig, D. F., & Singh, H. (2012). Electronic health records and national patient-safety goals. New England Journal of Medicine, 367(19), 1854-1860.