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PhysiciansPractice : How to Avoid EHR Gaps Seen in the Ebola Crisis

When the Liberian citizen carrying the Ebola virus first presented himself at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital last month, he was initially sent home with antibiotics and pain relievers, according to reports. This outcome gave him three more days without treatment and put others he came in close contact with at risk in contracting the deadly disease. –

The big question of course is, “How could this have happened?” Here’s how.

It turns out that while the admitting nurse asked all of the right questions and even took the time to input the information into the hospital EHR, proper dissemination to physicians in charge never happened because the nurse’s EHR work flow was separate and not integrated with the physician EHR work flow.

While this caused a public outcry of why keywords such as fever, vomiting, and a patient visiting from West Africa weren’t enough to create real-time people-to-people communication across the emergency room floor, it is important to consider the “chaotic” status of the hospital at that time in terms of staffing, noise-level, and other urgent crisis care needs rolling in the door. The hospital and its staff counted on the technology to do the work for them, but previously unknown gaps suddenly became very apparent.

Since then, the hospital has remedied its EHR work flow system, but where does that leave the rest of us? How do other healthcare facilities and physician practices overcome the fact that too many more health systems have similar separate functions and modules which do not share information to users on a timely basis?

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