» What to look for in an Electronic Health Records (EHR) System: Can it tackle complex processes, such as chemotherapy scheduling?

What to look for in an Electronic Health Records (EHR) System: Can it tackle complex processes, such as chemotherapy scheduling?

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Note: This blog post continues our exploration of what to look for in an Electronic Health Record System. Please read through our past blog posts for more tips.

Most EHR systems on the market today can tackle the basic issues faced by health care facilities, even if the solutions are somewhat inelegant. But as requirements grow in complexity, the number of EHR systems that can accommodate these challenges dramatically shrinks.

Take the example of setting up calendars and scheduling treatment appointments for chemotherapy. There are a number of very complex factors that make this a particularly challenging problem to solve:

  • Patients do not need to be assigned to a specific examination room. They only need an available chair within a room of chairs.
  • Each patient treatment can last different amounts of time. So, while one patient may need a 15-minute treatment, another patient may need 2 hours.
  • Blocks of time are available, such as a morning session from 8am to noon, and within each of those blocks of time the scheduler needs to know if a chair is available for the amount of time a patient needs it.
  • Some patients need just chemotherapy treatments while other patients need both chemotherapy and oxygen treatment, and possible other additional treatments.
  • The correct amount of drugs needs to be available for the patients. If they aren’t, no more appointments can be allowed, even if there are open chairs.
  • Once the patient is treated for the first round of chemotherapy, sometimes the doctor wants the nurse to order the next round of treatment medications and schedule a treatment appointment, and sometimes the doctor wants to see the patient first.
  • At treatment time, the nurse may determine that treatment is not viable (due to patient fever, etc.), which may result in a rescheduled treatment, or a new consult with a physician.

As you may surmise from this list of requirements, creating a solution that seamlessly and elegantly addresses all of these demands is not easy. And as you may also know, this is just one example of the many complex processes that healthcare facilities grapple with. Some of these processes are common across facilities, while others are unique to a particular facility. Your chosen EHR system needs to accommodate all processes, regardless of their complexity, and, perhaps more importantly, accommodate them in a way that is intuitive and easy to learn.

Luckily, our experience working hand-in-hand with a wide range of healthcare providers to understand their unique workflows has given us the experience required to address challenges like chemotherapy scheduling. Through working closely with cancer hospitals in various countries,  HarmoniMD™ now offers an elegant solution:

  • Setting the time for an appointment is done by choosing a time from the list of available times within a selected time slot.
  • The system shows available times for an appointment by looking at all of the appointments for the day and seeing which times will support an appointment of the duration requested.
  • The system will not book more appointments than there are chairs available for any time of the day.
  • The system allows appointments to run past the end of a time slot but not past the end of the day.
  • If the appointment can’t be accommodated in the time slot, or the appointment would run past the end of the day, no times will be offered, and the user will need to pick a different time slot.
  • The scheduling system integrates with the pharmacy department, alerting the pharmacy of all medications that need to be ordered for each time slot. This allows the pharmacy to order medications for delivery timed to treatments.
  • Our proprietary Electronic Clinical Document (ECD) technology is used to save an entire treatment protocol in one document that spans across all treatment visits. (All treatment protocols are defined by your clinical staff.) At the initial consult, the doctor selects the appropriate ECD with the treatment protocol needed, uses the ECD to order medications for the first treatment, and indicates how many treatments the nurse can administer (and order medications for) prior to requiring another consult.  (Read more about our ECDs in our Feb 2020 blog.)
  • The treatment can be cancelled, to be rescheduled at a later date, and if needed, the patient can be scheduled to see a doctor prior to the next treatment.

While the core structure of chemotherapy scheduling tends to be the same regardless of facility or country, there are of course unique needs based on a variety of factors, including the type of cancer being treated. The beauty of HarmoniMD is that unique needs are not sacrificed with our specific solution. To the contrary, variations are easily accommodated.

Rest assured: We have the experience, based on thousands of hours working with a variety of clinicians, to understand the complex processes facing health care providers like you. We would love to partner with you to meet your unique needs. Contact us today for a demonstration.