Acute care services at Covenant supports many specialty services including Neuro, Cardiac Surgery and a level 3 NICU. Responsible for providing 23,000 blood gas samples per year is the Respiratory Department, led by Director Barry Boike.
The blood gas service at Covenant consists of 5 Radiometer ABL837 FLEX analyzers. Besides blood gases and CO-Oximetry, each analyzer measures electrolytes, glucose, lactate, bilirubin and creatinine. The instruments are located within or adjacent to the critical care areas which include NICU, ED, CICU, Neuro ICU and the OR. Responsible for the day-to-day operation of these instruments and the roughly 100 operators is ABG Coordinator Joe Nigl.
Wearing multiple hats in health care today seems to be more the rule than the exception. Besides managing the ABG service at Covenant, Nigl also provides bedside patient care. This means workflow efficiency is a high priority. In a recent meeting with Nigl we learned one secret to his success, utilizing IT to save time.
Previously Nigl relied on Radiometer’s RADIANCE System to connect and manage his five busy analyzers. Recently he upgraded to the new AQURE POC Management System. One new AQURE feature is its structure. To ensure hospital network compatibility, data security and system reliability, Radiometer developed AQURE based on the Microsoft suite of network and data products. Nigl commented that... "AQURE is a more stable platform. In the past when our IT Department would perform system wide updates, my Radiance server would be disabled. Server reboots were required, but not anymore".
Given the medical center's size and layout, getting from Nigl's office in the Respiratory Department to check on the status of all the analyzers personally can easily be a 30-minute walk. This is time Nigl and the Clinical Coordinators that assist him don’t have. Another new AQURE feature the team relies on is the dashboard. This can be configured with a variety of user specific widgets and customized for each AQURE user. In Nigl's case, he's configured his dashboard with a widget that allows him to check on the status of all instruments connected directly to the Covenant network, at a glance.
What happens when Nigl spots an issue he needs to respond to? AQURE's Quick Access feature allows direct review and control of all analyzer functions from any PC with a web browser connected to the hospital’s network. So how has Quick Access been working for Nigl? "When the staff is having a problem with an analyzer or I need to review a result, AQURE saves me time by letting me look at the analyzer directly and resolve issues without leaving my office." Nigl estimates AQURE saves him 4-5 hours each week.
Nigl admits to not being "a computer guy" and knows he is only utilizing a small portion of the work flow improvements AQURE can deliver. He plans to work with his Radiometer IT Specialist and Clinical Application Specialist to review his current workflow and determine what additional AQURE features he might utilize that would save him more time.
Future AQURE features being discussed are capturing and documenting critical value notifications at the analyzer, reports for regulatory compliance produced at the intervals he specifies and sent directly to his inbox, automating his operator/ competency management procedures and capturing clinical information at the bedside with AQURE’s FLEXLINK module.
In today’s health care environment, hospital systems having an efficient workflow is critical. The Respiratory Department’s blood gas service is clearly demonstrating its commitment to contributing to the success of the Covenant Health System and we expect they will continue to make even greater contributions in the near future with help from RADIOMETER and AQURE.