Fast Access for Clinicians and Secure Patient Data for IT: Can You Have Both?

A couple of weeks ago I moderated a Healthcare IT News webinar session that examined how hospitals today make patient data easily and securely accessible throughout the clinical workflow. I was joined by Dr. Zafar Chaudry, CIO of Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust & Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation trust and Dr. Lawrence Losey, Pediatrician, Chief of Pediatrics and Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO) for Parkview Adventist Medical Center. The session addressed the clinical workflow, process and technology behind providing fast, secure access to patient data, touching on all the areas within a hospital where a workstation sits and from anywhere a clinician may need access.

Dr. Chaudry and Dr. Losey shared their experiences providing fast access to electronic medical records (EMR) for clinicians as well as strategies and processes for ensuring patient privacy. Dr. Losey highlighted finger biometrics and remote access as huge draws for physicians and by providing doctors with laptops loaded with the applications they need to do their job from anywhere, it drove EMR adoption for the Parkview team.

Dr. Chaudry discussed how his team organized their approach to streamlining secure access to applications. By conducting workshops to effectively map workflow of clinicians, they were able to measure the before and after effect of what the clinical staff did each day to understand if there was indeed a performance improvement. Findings were telling, as different clinical roles utilized different processes and workflows which showcased how important it was to take people’s real-world daily activities into consideration when planning any type of shift that impacts clinicians. As such, healthcare access management and secure authentication such as proximity cards and fingerprint biometrics play integral roles in enabling effective, efficient workflows.

The move to electronic systems, as Dr. Losey noted is “a wonderful opportunity to re-engineer your processes.” It’s not enough just to computerize a process, but to step back and ensure the process is the right one in the first place. Again, it all gets back to clinical workflows. The points made in this session were quite prescriptive to deliver not only a successful EMR experience but a successful clinical workflow experience that encourages widespread adoption.

The panel also examined the impact of new patient privacy mandates in both the U.K. and the U.S., the role of patient data security, the auditability needed to ensure compliance and the impact on clinician workflow. Dr. Losey provided some good anecdotes that illustrated how a complete audit trail is the most powerful way to remind clinical staff that they shouldn’t be ‘snooping’ on patient data records that they weren’t involved with.

The session closed with a number of great questions from the audience that sparked continued knowledge sharing from the panelists. If you weren’t able to attend the live webinar, I suggest checking it out to hear useful insights from some smart medical executives:

Barry P.Chaiken, MD, FHIMSS