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Working in Emergency Informatics

A major part of working in emergency informatics involves a system called EDIS (the Emergency Department Information System). It supports and assists emergency medical providers in tracking emergency room patients and maintaining a smooth workflow.

The EDIS is an electronic health record-keeping system that is becoming more vital as the healthcare industry moves toward digitizing all patient records. It collects information about emergency patients beginning with their arrival to the hospital. Emergency records track triage, provider-patient consults, test results – everything up to and including patient discharge.

For that reason, such systems must be highly adaptive and capable of supporting the input of large amounts of data. Each step of the emergency care process must be documented properly to allow ER records and regular patient records to merge once emergency care is complete. The EDIS must be able to communicate with all hospital department computers in order for this to happen.

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 provides financial incentives to hospitals and healthcare providers to adopt and maintain an approved electronic record-keeping system.

Success With Emergency Informatics

As of 2011, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, 84% of emergency departments in the U.S. reported using an electronic records system, nearly double the number of departments in 2006. Similar increases in outpatient provider departments using electronic systems also were reported, from 29% in 2006 to 73% in 2011.

In January 2014, the website Healthcare Informatics (healthcare-informatics.com) documented how emergency care providers in the state of Washington were utilizing electronic health records to save money and improve patient care.

In the Pacific Northwest, hospitals started using the Emergency Department Information Exchange, or EDIE, software that alerts emergency departments when patients requiring high-utilization or special needs sought medical care.

The information shared included past emergency care visits, primary care provider information and any associated care plans, according to the report. The technology was estimated to save the state about $31 million a year, while helping to reduce unnecessary emergency room visits, specifically by Medicaid patients with a history of multiple trips to the ER per year.

The EDIE was so successful that Oregon health officials decided to adopt the same approach.

The EDIE software is utilized by every size hospital in Washington, and allows for specific alerts to be generated based on individual patients. This way, emergency care providers can access immediately a patient’s prior history to make a better-informed care decision. In many cases, patients were referred back to primary care providers for issues that did not require an all-hands-on emergency approach.

Other Applications

The intuitive software is applicable for other healthcare agencies, such as accountable care organizations, coordinated care organizations and even home health agencies, which also can incorporate the data for patient-specific, individualized treatment and care plans.

Starting the Career Path

New methods of patient data collection are part of the rapidly growing discipline of health informatics. Earning a degree or certificate 100% online from USF Health’s Morsani College of Medicine can provide you with the skills needed to stay on the cutting edge of Health IT. Learn more at http://www.usfhealthonline.com/programs/.

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