Using Device Connectivity to Improve the Healthcare Experience. Why Connect Medical Devices to the EMR?

How medical devices and technology come together to advance patient care.

Streamlining the way that medical information is recorded and accessed can positively transform healthcare environments, which can, in turn, dramatically improve the experience and clinical outcomes for patients, clinicians and staff. Connecting medical devices— such as infusion pumps, patient monitoring systems, and dialysis machines—to a hospital’s electronic medical record (EMR) system can help maximize resources and centralize critical clinical information.

“Today’s medical devices are highly sophisticated tools that enable healthcare providers to be both efficient and effective with their time,” said Ileana Ibbett, Business Unit Director, responsible for Baxter's Connected Care portfolio. “By seamlessly integrating new technology into a hospital’s existing infrastructure, we can help them provide truly connected care that both builds a more sustainable healthcare system and allows medical staff to focus their attention on giving patients the best care possible.”

A growing number of Canadian hospitals now rely on a centralized EMR system to house patient information.1 But if that information can’t be updated, accessed or integrated in a user-friendly manner with other systems within the hospital network, it simply isn’t as valuable. Setting up a fully integrated communication network offers benefits that range from improved clinical outcomes for patients to reduced stress on doctors, nurses, and staff. If used effectively, connected care also has the potential to improve health outcomes for the wider population, insofar as a higher standard of care has an inevitable ripple effect that benefits everyone.2

Here are five important benefits of connecting medical devices to the EMR:

1. Automating patient charting

Sending data from a device to the patient record saves time for nurses who no longer need to manually enter it in the EMR. In addition, the data will be available almost instantly, with the risk of input errors practically eliminated when the information is sent directly from the medical device to the EMR. The Ottawa Hospital, for example, found that after installing connected Vital Signs Monitors at each patient’s bedside, they not only saved their nurses time but eliminated electronic documentation delays and reduced transcription errors.3 Introducing a point-of-care mobile app can help nurses access the critical information they need faster, in almost real-time. Similarly, when it comes to direct patient care, utilizing an integrated Nurse Call system has been found to increase the time nurses spend at their patients’ bedsides by 60%.4

2. Managing device fleet efficiently

Knowing the location, use status, and even battery level of devices can help to streamline already limited resources. When a healthcare environment has fully integrated communication channels and staff can see exactly how devices are being used throughout different units, each fleet can be located and deployed more efficiently. This has become especially valuable during COVID-19 hospitalization peaks when some medical devices are scarce. Hospital workers routinely spend valuable time locating, cleaning, and transporting devices, so having instant access to information about a required device can save a significant amount of time per shift, which, again, allows healthcare providers to focus on patient care.5

3. Enhancing patient safety

Establishing two-way connectivity between medical administration devices and the EMR provides opportunities to implement and meet quality and safety goals. This is especially useful in instances such as IV drug prescriptions, which can now be automatically checked against the drug and dose being delivered, reducing drug-related “never events.”

4. Reducing waste

When every medication dose is scanned alongside the patient and the pump before being fed into the EMR, some hospitals have found they are wasting less medication, making their pharmacies more efficient. Because every dose is tracked, there’s the added potential of reducing diversion of drugs, which is a significant compliance issue in hospitals.

5. Building a data foundation

Device connectivity is the first step toward building a data foundation. De-identified data from devices can be collected and analyzed for a variety of efforts, from quality improvement programs to assessing how often patients receive a prescribed treatment, to looking for efficiencies in a strapped healthcare system.

Find out more about how Baxter Canada’s (and now with Hillrom’s) technology and digital health solutions are enhancing the Canadian healthcare experience for both patients and staff.