The emergence of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) has made it easier to follow up on patient progress through a hospital setting. One of the key aspects of EHRs is the aspect of electronic patient checking which entails tracking a patient’s entire progress between check in and check out. It is applicable for both in-patient and out-patient processes and generally follows a process stipulated by the flow chart below. Each of the points of the flow chart indicates a point in the hospital. At each of these points, the person responsible for electronic recording indicates the check in time and the vacation time in order to make it easy for the patient’s position to be determined at any time (National Learning Consortium par. 2).
|Patient Check- in and assignment
|Wards/ Operating Room/ Drug and injection administration
|First Aid/ assignment for further treatment
Patient Check in and Assignment
The electronic health recording process involves the use of networked computers to track patient progress through the treatment process. For any patient that comes into the hospital except for emergency cases, the first procedure is the check in process. Patient check in is carried out by a hospital clerk whose responsibility is to all the patient details electronically. The patient records including demographic data, type of entry (either out- patient or emergency) and previous visitation reports are entered into the electronic data bases. The patients are also accorded unique identifiers which can be used for reference across the hospital. The patient details are then available to all sections of the hospital. The clerk then assigns the patient to a specific section where they would be attended to. For the emergency cases, the direction is mainly to the first aid center where they are attended to immediately while the other patients are directed to any consultation room. The check in process is essential for ease in patient tracking and identification throughout the system as well in order to enable the administrators to understand patient conditions prior to treatment.
After assignment to the consultation room, the patients get to meet a doctor. The doctor is responsible for facilitating the consultation process which mainly involves provision of detailed verbal descriptions of the patient’s condition. From the descriptions given, the doctor can then determine whether the patient is in need of emergency assistance or to send the patient to the laboratory for further tests. The doctor provides the reports on the patient profiles created by the check in clerk then sends patients in need of emergency care to the ER room while others are sent to the laboratory. The consultation process is crucial for determining the preliminary conditions of the patients and subsequently recommending the most relevant laboratory tests to be conducted on the patient depending on the symptoms described by the patient.
In most hospitals, payments are made prior to laboratory testing but after consultation since this is the time when the tests to be conducted have been decided upon. The cashier is responsible for collecting payments and reporting on the condition of the payment through the EHR. Additional payments are also made after diagnosis to facilitate treatment procedures such as catering for the cost of drugs, injections, ward admissions and surgeries where necessary. Once the cashier updates the payment information on the database, the patient can then get the required service from any point in the hospital.
The laboratory is one of the most crucial points in a healthcare facility. This is because it is the laboratory that initiates any treatment process in the hospital. The laboratory technicians are responsible for assisting the patients in the laboratory by confirming the position of the patient within the electronic recording systems, conducting the necessary tests on the patient and reporting on the test results for the doctors to conduct a diagnosis and recommend treatments where necessary. Laboratory tests are only conducted on condition that the patient has undergone all the previous stages and all the details including the payment receipt numbers are recorded in the system. Once all the details are confirmed, the technician conducts the tests and then directs the patient back to the consultation room. At each of the nodes of treatment, the patient presents a card with the patient reference number indicated on it. This helps the people at the next node to identify the patient through the electronic records and thus follow up on other patient details and progress (Savance EIO Board par. 4).
Patient diagnosis is conducted in the doctor’s/ consultation room. The doctor reads through the laboratory reports and compares this to the preliminary patient reports. From this, the patient can then be told what ails them. The doctor then prescribes medications where necessary. Other prescriptions may involve injections, recommendations for admission to the hospital wards and referral to bigger healthcare facilities. From the diagnosis, the patients who need administration of drugs and injections are directed to the treatment rooms via the payment points. Others who are in need of admission are directed by nurses on call by the doctor. Diagnosis is important as it is the core of treatment since it enables the doctor to treat known conditions and thus make accurate treatment decisions.
The treatment process takes place in various positions in the hospitals. For patients who are admitted, the treatment takes place in the hospital wards where they are monitored continuously. On the other hand, out-patients are treated within a treatment room where the key activities that take place include administration of injections and prescribed drugs. Other patients may also require operation due to various conditions. Such patients are treated within operating rooms and may be admitted for closer monitoring. In the wards, the patients are cared for by nurses as well as doctors. On the other hand, those in the treatment rooms are cared for by pharmacists who administer drugs or by nurses who administer injections. In the operating rooms, various specialist surgeons exist to cater for various patient needs.
From treatment, the patients then check out of the hospital. The check- out process is facilitated by a hospital clerk who confirms the procedures undergone by the patient and informs the patient of any comments and recommendations made by the doctors and the administrators.
Electronic patient checking is a process that goes hand in hand with electronic asset tracking in the hospital. This makes it easy to allocate resources where needed in a timely manner. In entirety, electronic checking is fast and efficient where the network connections are reliable. In each of the stages, the practitioner in charge is also responsible for making the patient records. This makes it easy to track the patient from entry to exit as well as to ensure that service delivery is fast and efficient.
National Learning Consortium. “Benefits of Electronic Health Records (EHRs).” Healthit, 2015. https://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/benefits-electronic-health-records-ehrs. Accessed 16 January 2017.
Savance EIO Board. “Better patient tracking and status updates.” Savance, 2016. http://www.eioboard.com/Patient_Tracking.aspx. Accessed 16 January 2017.