Designing community solutions: Observations from a nurse practitioner turned solution manager
Community hospitals fill a critical need in the healthcare system. The electronic health record (EHR) can help facilitate the mission of the hospital and assist with the delivery of quality patient care.
Throughout my career, I worked in organizations and roles that ran the gamut, from large specialized health systems to small community hospitals, from staff nurse to nurse practitioner and nursing administration. Those experiences, combined with a long history of working with client workflows, continuously help me in my current role as a health IT solution manager. As we shape solutions for community hospitals, we strive to keep a few key themes in mind.
Knowledge to support a wide range of patient needs
In a large health system, I worked in the surgical transplant Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Teams were always doing cutting-edge procedures that required a large depth of knowledge in the highly specialized field of liver transplants. To work effectively in that environment, my detailed understanding of that focused area of medicine was very important.
In contrast, when I worked in a local community hospital, to provide optimal patient care, it required me to have much less depth of knowledge in any specialized area, but more breadth of general knowledge. It wasn’t as important that I knew everything about liver enzymes or have depth of knowledge for liver transplants. Instead, I needed to have enough breadth of knowledge to treat patients with vastly different needs, problems and diagnoses.
Community hospitals are integral to their local municipalities and address many of the needs of their populations. They typically treat patients from infants to elderly with a wide variety of differing medical conditions. Additionally, in these smaller hospitals, nurses are often required to wear ‘multiple hats’ to fill in gaps that are covered by other ancillaries in academic institutions.
As a result of the variety of patients and medical issues encountered, utilization of evidence-based content by smaller institutions in their electronic health record (EHR) can help to keep clinicians up to date on the latest information across a wide range of patient needs.
Focusing on what matters most: the patient
Not unlike large hospitals, smaller hospitals are constantly trying to do more with less. Healthcare IT decisions play an important role in making the best use of resources. For example, moving to a hosted solution can lower costs, free up staff from tedious work and enable more focus on solving clinician challenges.
Treating patients is a complex business, and smaller hospitals must often do it with fewer resources – meaning both clinical specialties and IT expertise. Having moved from a clinician role to a health IT role, I realize that we need to make our solutions as turnkey as possible. Instead of having our clients figure out all the answers, we need to help them get live in a system that makes sense and works for them. We also can help them maintain that system, so that their focus can remain on delivering the best possible patient care. Prescriptive workflows that provide successful outcomes in a system with quality content helps meet this goal.
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