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Vol 3, No. 7, July/August 2015

Electronic system enhances patient discharge

Then: At discharge, patients got many pages of printed information from several caregivers: education materials, instructions from doctors and other caregivers, medications lists – often with handwritten notes – and more. Sometimes the information could be difficult to follow.


Now: Patients are given one concise packet of information, coordinated through all key caregivers. It is written clearly, with instructions about diagnosis, lab work, medications, new prescriptions if needed and follow-up instructions. Plus, discharge information can be sent electronically to a patient’s primary care doctor.

How: A standardized, template-based electronic application has been built into Hallmark Health System’s hospital information system. “We worked with MEDITECH developers to create an electronic discharge system that is robust enough to meet our needs,” said Maureen Jones, senior provider systems analyst. Among the system’s enhancements are medication reconciliation, decision support and integration of information among caregivers to improve communication. “We are one of the first hospitals to go live with this added functionality in MEDITECH,” she added.

Why: Transitions of care, such as from hospital to home, are among the most precarious times for patients. This is particularly true for medication management. “The electronic system addresses this by reconciling the medications patients took before their hospitalization, during hospitalization, and at and after discharge,” said Rishi Likhi, MD, medical director of hospital medicine and medical informatics. “Discharge instructions include clear explanations of what medications should be continued, which are new and which the patient should stop taking.” The system also includes automatic prompts to help physicians and other clinicians remember what kind of specific written instructions patients may need.

“One of our key goals was to standardize discharge information for all inpatients across both hospitals,” said Jones. “But more importantly,” added Dr. Likhi, “we wanted to improve patient safety during the critical transition-of-care phase of a patient’s care.”


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