Sunday, November 18, 2012

Streamlining ER Information Flow

AHRQ awarded the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) a four year $1.9 million grant titled “Opportunistic Decision-Making, Information Needs, and Workflow in Emergency Care”. The goal is to study how to make sure that the right information gets to the right people at the right time, reduce information overload, and test how state-of-the-art EHRs can be used to improve access to data.

The study led by Jiajie Zhang, Ph.D. Interim Dean of the UTHealth School of Buiomedical Informatics and his team are studying how emergency medicine doctors can best deal with a high workload, constant interruptions, and the need to multitask. The researchers are particularly interested in how doctors switch back and forth between tasks and how this affects their decision-making.

The study will be conducted at Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center which has the nation’s busiest trauma center. In 2009, the U.S. emergency departments had 136 million visits and about a third of the visits were for injuries.

Several possible improvements that could be instituted in emergency departments include using a dashboard to display vital information and developing software programs for tracking patient data on tablets.

Testing for communication systems will be done in a virtual world called Second Life. There, the researchers will be able to simulate the activities of a busy emergency department and be able to introduce their communication prototypes.