There are several things that set anesthesiologists apart from other medical specialties: First, the practice is extremely sensitive to very subtle elements such as timing, body weight, metabolism and drug interactivity. Second, anesthesiologists’ primary interactions are not with patients but with physicians, nurses and other medical professionals.
Therefore, anesthesiology-specific medical software focuses less on the doctor-patient workflow than on dosage administration functionality. Anesthesiologists must make quick decisions based on many different data inputs and constantly changing variables. A specialty electronic medical record (EMR)/electronic health record (EHR) captures data automatically from the monitoring devices, so the anesthesiologist doesn’t have to constantly make physical notes.
Features of an anesthesiology electronic medical record program might include:
|Anesthesiology templates||Anesthesiology-specific workflow templates reduce errors by automatically populating patient data and supporting treatment. Sample templates include cardiac, obstetrics, pediatrics and more.|
|Medical monitoring device integration||Capture physiologic data—including ECG, oxygen saturation, heart rate, blood pressure, end-tidal CO2, temperature and respiration—from anesthesia machine to ensure appropriate levels of anesthetization. This data is then automatically stored and attached to the patient record.|
|Interaction with other medical software||By automatically importing and exporting data from nurse’s or surgeon’s EMR software, you can drastically cut the time required for documentation. Particularly in a hospital setting, therefore, it’s crucial that your EMR is compatible with the other software programs being used.|
|Side effects alert||When preoperatively creating your anesthesia plan, the software should alert the physician(s) to any potential harmful drug interactions or allergies that may have been overlooked.|
|Timer||Built-in time calculators facilitate monitoring of drug levels and re-administration as necessary.|
During the start of the software evaluation process, you need to assess prospective anesthesiology EMR software solutions properly. Some of the parameters that will help you identify the best solution are:
Practice size: Some anesthesiology software solutions are better suited to large practices, while others are suited to smaller ones. Since an anesthesiology EMR system is developed for a certain type and number of users (with scope for scalability in mind), you must make sure that the software you finalize takes anesthesiologists working in your practice.
Systems architecture: Based on your budget and specific requirements, you can buy anesthesiology EMR software that is installed directly on the servers housed in your own practice (client-server) or a cloud-based software. Some anesthesiologists select client-server-based EMR software as they feel comfortable with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance. This measure lets them control all the fundamental data on their own systems, despite the need to upgrade and maintain such systems intermittently. Other anesthesiologists select the cloud-based EMR software since it can be accessed online from anywhere. However, in this case you need to make sure that the consistency and quality of your internet connection is excellent. Hence, you must consider the advantages and disadvantages of both types of system architecture before selecting the best option for your practice.
Certification from agencies: Before choosing your anesthesiology EMR software solution, you need to make sure that it is certified and tested by an ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Body (ONC-ATCB). The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) creates various EMR certification standards and approves the vendor EMR products. An ONC-ATCB certification guarantees that the EMR software has met the required objectives and measures for Meaningful Use (MU). Hence, you should check these certifications before making a decision about which anesthesiology EMR software solution to use.
Number of unique features: You must evaluate features that are unique to your anesthesiology EMR practice. Such features include ICD/CPT codes specific to anesthesiology, integration with critical care monitoring tools, integration with electrocardiogram (ECG) devices, interaction with surgeon's’ notes, time calculator and compatibility with anesthesia machines.
Hence, as an anesthesiology EMR software buyer, you must consider the above points before selecting a software solution that meets your requirements.
As you begin the process of software comparison and evaluation, there are some latest trends in the field of anesthesiology that you must consider before making a final selection:
Increasing care team anesthesia and Certified Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs): As the number of care team anesthesia and Certified Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) increases at a fast pace, hospital systems will have better incentives to execute anesthetics. Also, the trend of physician anesthesiologists themselves doing anesthesia is declining. Instead instances of CRNAs under the supervision of physician anesthesiologists or CRNAs doing anesthetics alone is on the rise.
Anesthesiology expected to become a shift-work job: Anesthesiology is soon expected to become more of a shift-work job. Until recently, an anesthesiologist commenced a case and completed that case on their own. Earlier, on-call anesthesiologists used to start taking calls in the morning and completed their last case the next morning, thus working for 24 hours straight. However, the trend is changing now and anesthesiologists have turned into company employees who work as per the normal 8-12 hour shift timings.
Growing interest among medical students: There is a growing interest in the field of anesthesiology among medical students. Several doctors are expected to reject the primary care areas, such as internal medicine, family practice and pediatrics. The primary care areas offer lower income and require longer working hours in the clinic. Due to higher compensation in procedural specialties, careers in anesthesiology are fast becoming more popular.
Safety statistics regarding anesthesia mortality and illnesses are improving: Though anesthesia has never been safer, safety statistics related to anesthesia are improving only now. Anesthesiologists, practitioners and patients can expect further improvements in education, protocols and monitors along with analysis of big data that will make anesthesia much safer.
As you can see from the above trends, fascination for anesthesia-related practices will continue in the future as this is the discipline that makes all surgical treatments possible. There cannot be any major surgical procedure without administering anesthesia to the patients. Hence, the demand for anesthesiology EMR software solutions will always exist in the medical market.
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