he World Wide Web is rapidly changing the face of medicine and patient care. As new technology develops at a dizzying pace, Winthrop proudly keeps pace with contemporary computer capabilities.
Lois Basile, RN, MS, Nursing Informatics Specialist
The Hospital has installed new computer technology, utilizing the World Wide Web to provide a network of online communication among physicians, nurses, laboratory, radiology, and the Dietary Department. All members of the patient care team can access up-to-the-minute information, including the most current nursing observations, facilitating greater coordination of care.
Orders for laboratory and radiology tests are entered online, and test results are communicated electronically. Similarly, meal orders are entered on the computer at the patient care unit and transmitted instantly to the Hospital's Dietary Department.
A team of computer specialists at Winthrop is developing a system to enable physicians to use the Web to access their patients' charts from remote locations, such as their offices, or even from home. Computers have been installed in physician lounges and conference areas to expand access to the system. One of the software's features, "Physician's View," includes vital data such as allergies, demographic information, and immediate test results.
The instant reporting of test results, and very soon, online documentation of nurses' observations and notes, allow the doctor to read about everything that is happening to his patient in real time - as soon as it occurs. This helps the physician to respond immediately to developing situations.
Computer automation has enhanced the already superior quality healthcare provided at Winthrop. Through the liaison provided by the relatively new field of Nursing Informatics, Winthrop's clinicians can tap into the full potential of available and emerging technologies. Central to the process is Lois Basile, RN, MS, Nursing Informatics Specialist, who applies 22 years of experience as a Winthrop nurse to a new role as the linkage between the "wish lists" of Winthrop's clinicians and the capabilities of computer technology. She possesses both comprehensive knowledge of the Hospital and its functions, and familiarity with information systems. She grasps the information needs of each Hospital area and accurately communicates them to the computer network designers. She also works with both types of specialists - healthcare clinicians and computer engineers -- to further refine the systems and networks which contribute significantly to informed patient care.
As the new computer systems go live, Ms. Basile also trains clinicians in the new technology and systems. Physicians, nurses, resident physicians, medical secretaries, and patient care associates (PCAs) all receive computer training related to their patient care duties. Already, more than 170 attending physicians have learned to operate the new system and adhere to its security requirements. Recently, Winthrop Nursing Supervisor Barbara Fischer, RN, joined Nursing Informatics to assist with teaching.
The privacy of medical charts and patient information is protected through encoding, passwords, and "levels of access." This latter concept means that clinicians have the ability to read and enter data relative to their duties and responsibilities. Physicians can review their patients' entire charts online, whereas Patient Care Associates can access only stipulated areas for those patients directly under their care.
As clinicians' needs for information change, and computer capabilities grow, Ms. Basile will continue to function as the intelligent human interface between the two teams. Working with communications experts, the Nursing Informatics Specialist enhances the excellence of the providers of patient care.