The limited use of digital ink in the private-sector primary care physician's office.
Two of the greatest obstacles to the implementation of the standardized electronic medical record are physician and staff acceptance and the development of a complete standardized medical vocabulary. Physicians have found the familiar desktop computer environment cumbersome in the examination room and the coding and hierarchic structure of existing vocabulary inadequate. The author recommends the use of digital ink, the graphic form of the pen computer, in telephone messaging and as a supplement in the examination room encounter note. A key concept in this paper is that the development of a standard electronic medical record cannot occur without the thorough evaluation of the office environment and physicians' concerns. This approach reveals a role for digital ink in telephone messaging and as a supplement to the encounter note. It is hoped that the utilization of digital ink will foster greater physician participation in the development of the electronic medical record. (+info)
Comparative hospital databases: value for management and quality.
OBJECTIVES: To establish an accurate and reliable comparative database of discharge abstracts and to appraise its value for assessments of quality of care. DESIGN: Retrospective review of case notes by trained research abstractors and comparison with matched information as routinely collected by the hospitals' own information systems. SETTING: Three district general hospitals and two major London teaching hospitals. PATIENTS: The database included 3905 medical and surgical cases and 2082 obstetric cases from 1990 and 1991. MAIN MEASURES: Accessibility of case notes; measures of reliability between reviewers and of validity of case note content; application of high level quality indicators. RESULTS: The existing hospital systems extracted insufficient detail from case notes to conduct clinical comparative analyses for medical and surgical cases. The research abstractors at least doubled the diagnostic codes extracted. Interabstractor agreement of about 70% was obtained for primary diagnosis and assignment to diagnosis related group. These data were sufficient to create a comparative database and apply high level quality indicators designed to flag topics for further study. For obstetric-specific indicators the rates were comparable for abstractors and the hospital information systems, which in each case was a departmentally based system (SMMIS) producing more detailed and accessible data. CONCLUSIONS: Current methods of extracting and coding diagnostic and procedural data from case notes in this sample of hospitals is unsatisfactory: notes were difficult to access and recording is unacceptably incomplete. IMPLICATIONS: Improvements as piloted in this project, are readily available should the NHS, hospital managers, and clinicians see the value of these data in their clinical and managerial activities. (+info)
Evaluation of audit of medical inpatient records in a district general hospital.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate an audit of medical inpatient records. DESIGN: Retrospective comparison of the quality of recording in inpatients' notes over three years (1988, 1989, 1990). SETTING: Central Middlesex Hospital. MATERIALS: Random sample of 188 notes per year drawn systematically from notes from four selected one month periods and audited by two audit nurses and most hospital physicians. MAIN MEASURES: General quality of routine clerking, assessment, clinical management, and discharge, according to a standardised, criterion based questionnaire developed in the hospital. RESULTS: 1988 was the year preceding the start of audit in the hospital, 1989 the year of active audit with implicit and loosely defined criteria, and 1990 the year after introduction and circulation of explicit criteria for note keeping. There was a significant trend over the three years in 21/56 items of the questionnaire, including recording of alcohol intake (x2 = 8.4, df = 1, p = 0.01), ethnic origin (x2 = 57, df = 1, p = 0.001), allergies and drug reactions (x2 = 10, df = 1, p = 0.01) at admission and of chest x ray findings (x2 = 8, df = 1, p = 0.01), final diagnosis (x2 = 5.6, df = 1, p = 0.025), and signed entries (x2 = 11.3, df = 1, p = 0.001). Documentation of discharge and notification of discharge to general practitioners was not significantly improved. CONCLUSIONS: Extended audit of note keeping failed to sustain an initial improvement in practice; this may be due to coincidental decline in feedback to doctors about their performance. (+info)
Computer analysis of qualitative data: the use of ethnograph.
Ethnograph, a code and retrieve software program for computer analysis of qualitative data, was utilized to assist in analyzing the content of in-depth interviews and focus group data. This program requires basic computer hardware and is fairly easy to use. The main advantage of the program is easy access to data dealing with a particular issue and easy retrieval of text for analysis and illustration. However, to get the maximum benefit from this program, documents need to be structured In the format suitable for the software. Among the difficulties encountered were the absence of on-line documents dummy coding, lack of options in printing facility and the tendency for the program to hang whenever there was a printing error. (+info)
Improving the quality of health care through contracting: a study of health authority practice.
OBJECTIVES: To investigate approaches of district health authorities to quality in contracting. DESIGN: Descriptive survey. SETTING: All district health authorities in one health region of England in a National Health Service accounting year. MATERIAL: 129 quality specifications used in contracting for services in six specialties (eight general quality specifications and 121 service specific quality specifications) MAIN MEASURES: Evaluation of the use of quality specifications; their scope and content in relation to established criteria of healthcare quality. RESULTS: Most district health authorities developed quality specifications which would be applicable to their local hospital. When purchasing care outside their boundaries they adopted the quality specifications developed by other health authorities. The service specific quality specifications were more limited in scope than the general quality specifications. The quality of clinical care was referred to in 75% of general and 43% of service specific quality specifications. Both types of specification considered quality issues in superficial and broad terms only. Established features of quality improvement were rarely included. Prerequisites to ensure provider accountability and satisfactory delivery of service specifications were not routinely included in contracts. CONCLUSION: Quality specifications within service contracts are commonly used by health authorities. This study shows that their use of this approach to quality improvement is inconsistent and unlikely to achieve desired quality goals. Continued reliance on the current approach is holding back a more fundamental debate on how to create effective management of quality improvement through the interaction between purchasers and providers of health care. (+info)
Using a multidisciplinary automated discharge summary process to improve information management across the system.
We developed and implemented an automated discharge summary process in a regional integrated managed health system. This multidisciplinary effort was initiated to correct deficits in patients' medical record documentation involving discharge instructions, follow-up care, discharge medications, and patient education. The results of our team effort included an automated summary that compiles data entered via computer pathways during a patient's hospitalization. All information regarding admission medications, patient education, follow-up care, referral at discharge activities, diagnosis, and other pertinent medical events are formulated into the discharge summary, discharge orders, patient discharge instructions, and transfer information as applicable. This communication process has tremendously enhanced information management across the system and helps us maintain complete and thorough documentation in patient records. (+info)
Improving clinician acceptance and use of computerized documentation of coded diagnosis.
After the Northwest Division of Kaiser Permanente implemented EpicCare, a comprehensive electronic medical record, clinicians were required to directly document orders and diagnoses on this computerized system, a task they found difficult and time consuming. We analyzed the sources of this problem to improve the process and increase its acceptance by clinicians. One problem was the use of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9) as our coding scheme, even though ICD-9 is not a complete nomenclature of diseases and using it as such creates difficulties. In addition, the synonym list we used had some inaccurate associations, contributing to clinician frustration. Furthermore, the initial software program contained no adequate mechanism for adding qualifying comments or preferred terminology. We sought to address all these issues. Strategies included adjusting the available coding choices and descriptions and modifying the medical record software. In addition, the software vendor developed a utility that allows clinicians to replace the ICD-9 description with their own preferred terminology while preserving the ICD-9 code. We present an evaluation of this utility. (+info)
Vaccine storage in the community: a study in central Italy.
Maintaining the vaccine cold chain is an essential part of a successful immunization programme, but in developed countries faulty procedures may occur more commonly than is generally believed. A survey was conducted in a health district in central Italy to assess the methods of vaccine transportation and storage. Of 52 primary vaccination offices inspected, 39 (76.5%) had a refrigerator for vaccine storage but only 17 (33.3%) kept records of received and stored doses. None of the seven main offices selected for monitoring had a maximum and minimum thermometer and none monitored the internal temperature of the refrigerator. Moreover, other faulty procedures, such as the storage of food and laboratory specimens in vaccine refrigerators and the storage of vaccines on refrigerator door shelves, indicated that the knowledge and practice of vaccine storage and handling were often inadequate. (+info)