CRMC Receives National Recognition — 2012 Most Wired Innovator Award

How many times have you anxiously waited for a status update on your loved one in a waiting room? Sitting and wondering whether or notCRMC Surgery Electronic Patient Tracking Screen you could leave to go to the bathroom or to grab a quick bite to eat for fear of missing an update from the doctor or nurse. At Cullman Regional Medical Center, family members of patients’ undergoing surgery, no longer have to worry and wait for updates thanks to a new Electronic Surgery Tracking System created by the hospital’s Information Technology Department. 

How Does it Work?
The new system keeps staff, physicians and family members informed on a patient’s progress. When patients come into the Medical Center for a surgical procedure they now receive a PIN number during registration. They can share this PIN number with family and friends who are waiting on status updates. After a ptient is taken back for pre-operative care their PIN number appears on the tracking screen in the surgery waiting room. Their family and friends can watch as their number moves across a screen as they transition from check-in, to surgery, to recovery and out of recovery. 

How Did the Old System Work?
Prior to the new E-tracking system, CRMC’s Surgical Department communicated like most other surgical departments in the United States with dry-erase boards and telephone calls being the primary tools for communication between departments. The ingenuity of the project team allowed CRMC to replace the high volume of telephone calls for status updates with a real-time, on-screen patient tracking solution. This new process eliminates many repetitive phone calls for giving and receiving updates and provides the additional benefit of visual cues to other departments as each stage of patient preparation is complete. 

Why is this Important? Most Wired Logo
This innovative system has recently been named one of the nation’s Most Wired Innovator Award, according to the results of the 2012 Most Wired Survey released in the July issue of Hospital & Health Networks magazine. According to the survey, the nation’s Most Wired hospitals are leveraging the adoption and use of health information technology (IT) to improve performance in a number of areas and are focused on expanding and adopting IT that protects patient data and optimizes patient flow and communication.

Among the key findings in the survey:
  • 93% of Most Wired hospitals employ intrusion detection systems to protect patient privacy and security of patient data, in comparison to 77% of the total responders.
  • 74% of Most Wired hospitals and 57% of all surveyed hospitals use automated patient flow systems.
  • 90% of Most Wired hospitals and 73% of all surveyed use performance improvement scorecards to help reduce inefficiencies.
  • 100% of Most Wired hospitals check drug interactions and drug allergies when medications are ordered as a major step in reducing medication errors. 
The CRMC Surgery Electronic Tracking System, created locally by CRMC Information Technology professionals, has since attracted the interest of a large metropolitan hospital’s surgery department who wants to purchase and put this system in use at their facility.

According to CRMC Information Technology Director Nancy Zavatchen, “The reward is the reception and use of the product, the smiles that our team receives each day and the gratitude of our patient’s families as they wait or word on their loved one. We are taking challenges and turning them into opportunities that support our hospital and community . . . while all the time learning and enjoying the rich benefits of what technology has given the world of healthcare.

Health Care's Most Wired Survey, conducted between January 15 and March 15, asked hospitals and health systems nationwide to answer questions regarding their Information Technology (IT) initiatives. Respondents completed 662 surveys, representing 1,570 hospital or roughly 27 percent of all US hospitals. The July H&HN cover story detailing results is available at