With nearly 15,000 physicians, residents and staff, London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is London’s largest employer. It’s a multi-site facility that includes University, Victoria and Children’s Hospitals plus multiple research institutes and medical centres.
LHSC provides the broadest range of specialized services of any hospital in Ontario. In 2016-17, it saw 163,369 emergency room visits and admitted 52,447 patients.
Over its 142-year history, LHSC has been a trail-blazer in the use of technology to advance health care. The organization developed the first artificial kidney and was the first hospital in North America to acquire a digital angiography system. It has also led in the use of digital communications as the first hospital to broadcast a surgery in real-time using RP-Vantage technology.
So it make sense that LHSC would turn to technology to coordinate communications across its systems. Here’s how the organization uses the Internet of Things to improve patient care, move medicines from the pharmacy to the bedside, increase collaboration and share the expertise of its physicians with other communities.
Improving bedside care
If you’ve ever tried to decipher the prescription your doctor has just handed you, you know how inefficient hand-written communications can be. Hand-written information is harder to read and can lead to medication errors. Plus, it takes time for paper-based medication orders to reach the hospital’s pharmacy and for the medication to reach the patient.
That’s why, in 2012, LHSC implemented an electronic medication ordering system. Today both patients and medicines are identified through a barcode system that increases both efficiency and patient safety.
Each patient now wears a barcode bracelet throughout the length of their hospital stay. Their physician enters medication orders into the computer, which is immediately received by the pharmacy and the resulting medication is blister-packed with a barcode on the front of the package. The patient’s nurse is able to scan the barcode on each patient’s bracelet, and then scan the blister pack. If the medication type and dosage match up with what the physician has ordered, the patient receives the medication and the event is logged into the patient’s medication history. The system also alerts the nurse about patient allergies or potential drug interactions that could be harmful.
As a result, LHSC has seen a 40% drop in adverse medication events.
Boosting communication and collaboration
LHSC previously issued its staff with pagers. With their limited range, inability to prioritize messages or to receive calls, pagers were a slow and inefficient method of communication. Now, many LHSC staff use Cisco Jabber, which allows them to collaborate anywhere on any device using instant messaging, voice and video calls, chat rooms, desktop sharing and more.
Staff are also using video technology to share information remotely. This has allowed hospital experts to conduct training sessions for healthcare practitioners in other communities, without either the presenter or the participants having to travel.
Better health in the community
LHSC is also involved in partnerships that use digital systems to improve patient care in the broader community.
The organization is a regional leader in a Ministry of Health initiative to increase access to patient information via the Electronic Health Record (EHR).
Through the Connecting South West Ontario (cSWO) Program, health care professionals can immediately and securely access patient information, like prescriptions, medical records and test results at any point of care in the system.
Access to a more complete electronic medical record across the region means the elimination of redundant tests, the ability for patients to get tests done as close to home as possible, and for their clinic times to be spent discussing care plans rather than waiting for results.
In 2015, LHCS moved all its patient information from physical data centres at the hospital to the cloud.
Transaction times dropped by 40%, a considerable achievement considering the organization processes some 85 million transactions a month. An additional advantage to cloud storage is that if the system goes down, all data and applications are recoverable.
Moving to the cloud also allowed the organization to repurpose the space previously used for the data centres.
Lessons for Others
LHSC proves that digital, data-sharing communications can provide measureable improvements across multiple systems in a healthcare setting. The organization has realized benefits in:
- improved patient care both in the hospital and in the community,
- increased internal and external collaboration,
- decreasing costs due to a reduction in redundant medical tests and in the need for physician travel, and
- better use of physical space by moving functions to the cloud
London Health Sciences Centre
Industry: Health Care
Name of Organization Contact: --
Authored by: Beth Bohnert
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