Aged care facility goes high tech

Tuesday, 08 September, 2009

The Dubbo RSL Aged Care Association in Dubbo and in Wellington in NSW embarked on a resource and information management review aimed at improving administrative processes. The review found that nursing staff wasted valuable time on paperwork, documenting patient care and medical administration; valuable time that could be better spent attending to their patients’ physical and emotional needs.

Built in 1989, the Aged Care Facility has grown from a 40-bed hostel facility to a 187-bed hostel facility and high-care unit across two sites, with 148 self-care units and a total of 250 staff. The facility required an end-to-end solution and approached a specialist aged care software company, iCare Solutions, to assist. iCare’s Clinical Care and Medication Management Solution was chosen to improve the level and quality of care of residents, by enabling nursing and care staff to spend more time with residents and less time on administration and reporting. It was then necessary to find a hardware product that would complement this software.

After researching various hardware solutions including traditional notebooks and Mobile Clinical Assistants (MCA), Panasonic’s H1 MCA stood out from the crowd. Its rugged and ergonomic design, as well as its extended battery life and ability to be sanitised with hospital-grade disinfectants, meant it was a perfect solution for the facility.

Bulky desktop computers were eliminated as they would have taken up considerable space at the staff’s terminals. By contrast, the H1’s compact, lightweight and slim design was a significant space-saver, and meant easy portability around the facility. The resource recommendation was one device for every two nurses on duty, bringing the total to 28 H1 products for the facility.

Damian Moore, Finance Manager, Dubbo RSL Aged Care Association, said: “The Panasonic Toughbook H1 ticked all the boxes when deciding on the solution. It enables staff to document a patient’s progress in real time and administer medication safely at the bedside. Previously, nursing staff would write patient notes at the end of their shift, so some points may have been forgotten or changed. Now information can be recorded as it is happening, improving speed and accuracy.”

Nurses will primarily use the H1 to document a patient’s progress in real time. The rugged and lightweight design means that staff can easily carry the H1 with them on a ward round. With the choice of a carry handle as well as a hand-strap and the versatility to use the device vertically or horizontally, nurses can decide what is comfortable for them. Tasks can be sent to the device so staff can see what needs to be completed for that day.

Images captured by the H1’s integrated 2.0 megapixel camera can be used to verify the patient’s identity, as well as accurately document the progress of healing, for example, skin conditions or bruises.

The H1’s fully sealed design is completely resistant to liquids - so nurses are not concerned about the product getting wet if used near a shower or bath; plus it can also be easily disinfected and wiped down as its smooth surface means there are no difficult areas to clean.

With an extended battery life of 6 hours, it is perfect for staff on the move. The dual hot-swappable batteries mean higher productivity with no downtime. A near-exhausted battery can be replaced while the device is still running, so it never needs to be powered down.

The H1 will also be used in the safe administration of medication. The H1 can be easily carried or attached to the medication trolley while operators attend to a patient’s needs. After verifying the patient’s identity via bar code reader or image on the device, the correct dosage and medication is dispensed. Images of the pills and medication are also viewable on the H1 to ensure they match the medication being prescribed. With the handy touch-screen LCD, staff can sign to confirm that the process is complete. With the H1’s advanced wireless capabilities staff can always be connected.

Moore continued, “Staff are extremely excited about the new system. During training they have already seen the benefits and impact these new products are going to have - from increased time spent with patients to the improved safety and accuracy of patient care.”

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