For many years, the cardiology staff at Nanticoke Health Services — a 99-bed, nonprofit, community hospital in Seaford, Delaware — had to manually review and assign every electrocardiogram (ECG) to a cardiologist.
This caused delays, especially during the weekend, as cardiologists did not receive assignments until the following Monday.
Also, without the ability to manage queues, providers who were out of the office commonly had a stack of ECG orders sitting in their queues which staff could not easily reassign.
Delays in ECG reviews also delayed patient care, and cardiologists knew they needed a different approach.
Enter Cerner’s PowerChart ECG™, which Nanticoke, a Cerner ITWorks℠ client, implemented in its electronic health record (EHR) in July 2016.
“ECGs can now be read immediately within the EHR and are visible to other providers for viewing. That wasn’t the case with our previous ECG system,” said Peter Rosen, director of cardiology services, Nanticoke Health Services. “Now that most ECGs are automatically matched, I finally have time to spend toward ECG quality. Plus, I can now see orders sitting in the queue without an attached ECG.”
Reducing processing delays
By implementing PowerChart ECG in Nanticoke’s EHR, most ECGs are automatically matched.
“On the previous system, manually matching orders took me more than an hour a day,” Rosen said. “Now, it takes me a few minutes.”
Cerner consultants worked closely with Nanticoke’s Cerner ITWorks team to ensure the ECG solution met the needs of the entire organization. With the new solution, cardiologists now read ECGs performed over the weekend in near real-time instead of waiting for a cardiologist’s assignment the following Monday, which can further reduce delays in patient care.
A new normal
Shared queues are the new normal for cardiologists at Nanticoke. If a cardiologist is out of the office, a colleague can read the next ECG in the queue.
Additionally, cardiologists now access and read ECGs from any location on any computer device as soon as ECGs are ready. Previously, cardiologists had to wait until the next morning to view the ECGs, a process that usually involved faxing the ECG, which reduced image quality.
Along these lines, providers and nurses no longer must physically retrieve and scan the ECG strips, which can potentially delay a diagnosis. A quick phone call from a nurse lets the cardiologist know it is available for viewing in the PowerChart ECG solution.
“I am extremely pleased with how PowerChart ECG improved the operations of the cardiology department,” said Rosen. “It helped eliminate value-less processes, accelerated ECG processing and improved visibility of ECG clinical data across our organization.”
“I wish we implemented it sooner,” he said.
Nanticoke Health Services includes Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, the Nanticoke Physician Network and the Nanticoke Health Foundation. Nanticoke Memorial Hospital was the first hospital on Delmarva to receive a 4-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and is the only hospital in Delaware and Maryland to be nationally recognized by Healthgrades with both the Outstanding Patient Experience Award™ and the Patient Safety Excellence Award. Nanticoke holds a Level III Trauma Center certification, is nationally certified by the Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center, and is a Gold Plus Award performer according to the American Heart/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines® program. Nanticoke’s Cancer Care Services holds Accreditation from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and is a member of the Association of Community Cancer Centers. Nanticoke’s medical staff includes over 160 health care providers practicing in 40 different specialties including the 45 providers employed within the Nanticoke Physician Network.