The Universitätsklinikum Aachen (UKA) is a university medical centre in Aachen in Germany with two main functions: patient care and medical science and research. There are 37 medical specialities, 1300 beds, and treatment was given to roughly 45,000 inpatients and 112,000 outpatients in 2010. Recently, University Aachen worked with Welch Allyn to automate the process of routine vital signs data collection in their facility. Dr. König spent some time speaking with us about the new system.
Q. You decided to start looking into automatic data collection, particularly with patient monitors and vital signs. Can you tell us about the work you did?
We used a vital signs monitor with wireless LAN transmission to directly send vital signs data into our information system and we compared that process to hand-transmitting the vital signs data on a paper chart, which is how it is typically done today. Doing so, we realized an increase in accuracy of the data being entered into the hospital information system through the wireless system. When the data is transmitted by hand, we’ve got a mistake rate of up to about 30-40 percent. And when the data is transmitted by wireless LAN, there are virtually no errors.
Q. Was there a time saving using the new system?
The time for the vital signs data to be available using wireless transmission to the information system is shorter than with the manual way, taking about 89 minutes. Of course, you could say that it is not that important on a normal ward that the vital signs data is there after 89 minutes, but when you see that handwritten vitals take anywhere from 22 minutes up to three or four hours to appear in the system, then you see a big difference.
Q. You mentioned the patient information data for example could be scanned using barcode scanners. Was that a help to you as well?
Yes, that’s right. The way of taking the data is that the clinician identifies himself with the barcode, then he identifies the patient, and then he takes the vital signs. With pressing the “save” button, the data is transmitted directly to the information system.
We were using an older version of the interface with only a one-direction possibility. So the data was sent to the information system, but we did not get any message back. Now the actual interface allows bi-directional transmission, so when the nurse takes the barcode of the patient, she automatically gets the name onto the screen of the device. So there is a greater gain of safety for taking the correct data of the correct patient.
The transmission of the data occurs in three steps. We’ve got the Welch Allyn vital signs monitor capturing the data, we’ve got the wireless LAN, and then we’ve got the software from Welch Allyn to the hospital information system. All these components have to work together, and of course there are sometimes difficulties which are to be managed.
Q. How did your clinicians feel about implementing the system?
The vital signs monitor itself was accepted right away because the measurement of the blood pressure is very fast and it’s very safe. And if the patient is moving a bit or so, or if the arm is not exactly straight, it doesn’t matter — the system takes the measurement. And this is something that is important for the nurses. When the system functions correctly, the transmission is safe and the correct information is entered into the system, the nurses are very happy about the situation. They really like it.
The Connex electronic vitals documentation system includes:
Connex® Vital Sign Monitor
The Connex VSM automates the vitals capture and documentation process to allow two-way wireless transmission of patient data into an EMR from the point of care, dramatically reducing the time and labour required to document data and virtually eliminating errors.
The automated vitals documentation allows clinicians to identify the patient, then capture and wirelessly transmit the readings directly to the EMR—eliminating extra steps, providing clinicians with faster updates to changes in a patient’s vital signs and ensuring accurate patient ID.
With wireless technology built right into the system allowing the monitor to act as a true mobile device, the Connex VSM works with current wireless networks and is intuitive and easy to use so staff don’t have to learn new ways to work.
Connex Vitals Management Software (VM)
Welch Allyn Connex VM Software is the backbone of the system that automates the vitals documentation process to eliminate manual steps and the errors that go with them, increasing efficiency and patient safety.
Connex VM integrates into an EMR, managing data from discrete sources and
repositories (EMR, ADT and CVSMs) and giving clinicians instant access to patient data anytime, anywhere and allowing them to identify abnormal vital signs more quickly.