Doctors now charting electronically in Emergency Dept.

News / Technology
By Peter Jeffrey

New electronic chart will improve patient care and safety and will follow patient to next stop

The latest phase of the Emergency Department Information System (EDIS) has just rolled out here at Kingston General Hospital and at Hotel Dieu Hospital. This time, it is physicians and residents who are putting aside their pens and paper to chart electronically instead.

"This is a big change in process for physicians but it's an important one as it will contribute to better patient care," says Dr. Paul Dungey, emergency physician. "The patient's chart tells their medical story from the moment they arrive inside our doors. Up until now, our handwritten documentation hasnít always been as legible or clear as it needed to be."

Physicians are now joining nurses and respiratory therapists (RTs) in the department who made the change over to electronic charting last summer. Now all of their notes will be combined into one comprehensive chart for each patient that can quickly be accessed and updated. The system also electronically displays all the tests ordered for each patient and quickly alerts the Emergency department staff when the results are ready.

Once the patient is ready to leave the emergency department, the benefits of all this electronic charting will now follow them wherever they go. If they are admitted to one of our inpatient beds for example, EDIS will send the ED chart directly into the Patient Care System (PCS) where it will be immediately available. The early feedback on this change has been very positive.

Or, if the patient is discharged from KGH, the system will generate and print a 'Primary Care Provider Visit Summary' that's ready to be sent to the patient's Primary Care Provider.

Importantly, EDIS also creates a 'Patient Visit Summary' for the patient themselves. Along with the details of their visit to the ED, it highlights any medical instructions they need to follow with regards to pharmaceutical prescriptions or booking follow-up appointments, for example.

"Being in the emerg is a stressful situation for patients and their families, and these summaries have been designed to give them as much information and support as possible once they leave the hospital," says Cindy Bolton, EDIS project manager.

As for next steps, the EDIS project still has one more phase to go. Next up is expanding what the system does to include online order entry, including imaging and laboratory orders. This part of the project is due to be implemented by the end of this fiscal year.