I took some photo’s of the various equipment I saw used – or more appropriately not used while I was in hospital for 9 days and thought I”d share with you. A major part of my recovery was getting up and walking and I’d do quite a few laps of the two wards on the 5th floor each day to help strengthen my muscles and get the blood moving. I also spoke to a fair few of the nurses during my time about there thoughts on the equipment and sadly it was as expected – they are really keen to embrace new technologies to help support there workload but so far they see “these machines” as something management came up with that makes life more difficult and adds administrative burden to their jobs rather than improving them.
I felt sad for this poor laptop, tied to it’s power plug, I never saw anyone use it and when I asked the nurses they said oh sometimes we use it for eprescriptions but most of the doctors can’t be bothered and just write it out at the bedside on paper.
I’m told it gets much more use down in the chemo ward with Peter Mac – maybe they should review why that is and implement some changes in usage or access for the other wards?
this is the screen once a nurse logs in through the fingerprint scanner on the side of the screen – you can see a video of me (rather foggy from the drugs apologies) showing the machine here but you can see that it’s more of a customer service pulse check rather than anything else. Most of the time the nurses just ticked yes, yes, yes yes and moved on – Only when the head nurse came in did she actually ask me each of the questions. They are supposed to do it every time they come into to see you and this I”m told forms part of their assessments on performance – I dont’ buy it and think it’s a waste of resource, once a day maybe or get the patient to say how they think their care is going?
Finally what ended up being used 99% of the time – good old fashioned paper, that got wet, was very difficult to read for some people and negated the money spent on all the other devices.
On the plus side talking to my surgeons and nurses – paper is good as it’s easy to see, easy to find – it always stays at the end of the bed. you can flick through it and get an overview of the patients status and it’s tangible you feel it and almost the response of your fingers adds something to the experience – and best of all it’s really cheap.
I think we can learn a lot from the designers who have done great jobs migrating the magazine experience to iPad, usability needs to be an essential component of how we develop these services – perhaps then people would have realised a tiny check box on a screen that is vertical rather than horizontal is really difficult for a nurse to click on.
I hope there is a future where at the end of the bed is a tablet, that is hygenic and cost effective but most of all easy to use – it senses who is logging on by their smart card secure readers and understands that this person is most interested in this sort of information and displays it in not just an easy to read format but an easy to digest and action format. The information is there to enable decisions about delivery of care – lets not forget that.
It can read information from various devices like the Personally controlled medication delivery – my morphine pump, the bed could even have sensors to show how long I’ve been out of it, the toilet been flushed (could pose problems as was it the cleaner, did I blow my nose?) my medications – all sorts of things.
All of this is possible, but first we need to agree the infrastructure of how we build this system – if we are to have truly integrated systems we need to make sure we speak the same language or at least are open to sharing our languages (yes thats you big medical software firms) so that information can be readily shared and accessed.
I believe 2011 is going to bring some exciting developments to move us forward to this vision of a connected sustainable healthcare service.