Monday, July 16, 2012

Hospital IT Team uses Technology to Improve Lives and Save Money, Time

By Dan Barber
Public Affairs Officer
Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital

             Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms, Calif., has set a goal to significantly decrease overall command operations cost and increase productivity with the latest technology.
            “Our goal is to leverage technology in different areas making peoples jobs easier and faster,” said Craig Palmer, Chief Information Officer of the Naval Hospital.
            One example of this technology innovation is with the addition of virtual computer log-on for Medical Home (Med Home) providers. “In the case of the Med Home providers, the IMD staff has been very sensitive to their needs,” Palmer said. “It used to be that the patient was moved around to our staff, now our staff is moved to the patients,” Palmer said. “We figured that it was conceivable that there would be about three people trying to log into a computer in a 20-minute exam in the same exam room. Normally, the log in time on each computer takes roughly 3-minutes. We tried to figure out what we could do to help. We basically did a technology insertion for our Med Home staff, which has worked out so well that it is being incorporated in other parts of our hospital and clinics,” Palmer added.
            “We were able to get the log in time on Exam Room computers, down from about 3-minutes to approximately 18-seconds… our ultimate goal is to get that time down to 3-seconds. Based on feedback we have received there are two other sites that are conducting virtual log-on trials.”
            Palmer added, “If a provider logs on 14 times a day (which is typical) and they are saving two and a half minutes per log on, the time saved can add up pretty quickly.  A real big bonus is before, because of computer log-on times, they weren’t always able to enter their clinic notes in CHSC and AHLTA records while in the exam room. This technology now empowers the providers to be able to enter their notes while in with the patients.”
            Palmer pointed out that providers report that they are now able to get out of the hospital in the an hour or more earlier then they did before. “This technology not only allows for better patient care, but it is adding to the quality of life for our providers,” said Palmer.
            Commander Raul Carrillo, NC, Medical Services Deputy Director and Department Head, Emergency Medicine Department was the key clinical contact for the project. Carrillo reports, “Virtual log-on for providers has increased productivity, it also gives the staff the ability to pull out their CAC [Common Access Card] from one station and move to the next. The clinic staff calls it ‘follow me CAC’ allowing staff to move from exam room to exam room.”
            “The time saved with virtual log-on will also allow our people to be able to work on Relay Health, a secure web-based program to provide better communications with our patients, and to allow the providers more time to complete their charts,” said Carrillo.
            The bottom line is, with the technological advances taking place at the hospital, it will improve patient care, decrease overall costs, work-hours and add to the quality of life for staff, which will lend itself to making this command a health care facility of choice, and a work place of choice for staff.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer Heat and Your Meds -- What's The Link?

Summer Heat and Your Meds – What’s The Link?
Martha Hunt, MA CAMF

      According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) certain medications such as psychotropic medications, antidepressants, or alcohol can change how your body responds to heat and how well you recognize that you are in danger of overheating. Heatstroke occurs when the body unable to cool itself and internal body temperatures rise to levels that may cause irreversible brain damage and death.
      Psychotropic medications are medications used to treat the symptoms of mental disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These medications can interfere both with your ability to regulate your body temperature and your awareness that you are overheating.
      According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the risk for heat-related illness and death may also increase among people who use medications for Parkinson’s disease (because they can inhibit perspiration), those who use tranquilizers and users of diuretic medications or "water pills" that affect fluid balance in the body. Certain antihistamines can also lead to heat stroke
      Also watch out for nutrition supplements that boost your metabolism or advertise that you will lose weight or build muscle. These supplements increase the risk of heat stroke by revving up metabolism. This can produce extreme amounts of body heat and can lead to death or brain injury.
      For more information on heat injury, visit the CDC's “Extreme Heat: A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety” ( for information on how to prevent, recognize, and treat heat-related illnesses.