How healthcare dashboards prevent illness and injury

AdTaxi-PharmAdv-HealthDashboard1Data have always been vital for hospitals and clinicians in researching, diagnosing and treating disease. Today, information technology allows health care professionals to use clinical data in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

By incorporating a tool called a dashboard, for example, health care providers can assess risks for populations of patients, intervene before an individual needs emergency care, and improve the safety of medications.

A big advocate of the new technology is Dr. Colin Banas, chief medical information officer at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center (VCUMC) in Richmond, Virginia. Banas was named a national Health IT Fellow this year. In 2013 he testified before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee to discuss VCUMC’s success in using Health IT to improve patient care.

Prior to implementing dashboards, doctors and nurses had to go into each patient’s individual chart to tease out the data, Banas said. With dashboards, clinicians can view all of that data in one snapshot.

“A nurse can see all the patients she’s taking care of and what their risks are and plan accordingly,” Banas said.

VCUMC utilizes an early warning system that incorporates a physiological algorithm so doctors and nurses can see who the sickest patients are at any given moment. From there, a rapid response team can intervene to prevent further illness or injuries. After incorporating the safety dashboards, VCUMC saw an impressive 50 percent reduction in serious falls with injury in patients.

Hospitals aren’t the only institutions using dashboards to improve patient care. Pharmacies are implementing dashboard technology to manage workflow, speed service and improve quality controls. In a March 2014 article published in the journal Hospital Pharmacy, authors Anand Khandoobhai and Robert J. Weber discussed ways in which technology can be used to improve medication safety and quality while reducing costs.

According to the article, the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center pharmacy department has created a dashboard that allows a medication safety pharmacist to examine “the most recent errors reported on a nursing unit.” By reviewing the causes of those errors, pharmacists are able to develop methods to prevent them.

“This real-time learning by the staff has heightened their awareness of medication errors and illustrates ways these errors can be prevented at the point of care,” the authors wrote.

It is no wonder health systems around the nation are fast discovering the advantages of dashboards. In addition to improving care, dashboards are also being used to maximize efficiency across the entire health care industry. In short, dashboards save both money and lives.