Supporting Perinatal Care and New Lives With EHR Integration

Chewing gum while walking or sending emails in a board meeting are both basic examples of multitasking.

What about caring for two patients in one bed? That “two-for-one” healthcare scenario plays out multiple times each day in LDR (labor, delivery, and recovery) units across the country. For most clinicians, managing a healthy childbirth transcends multitasking. Such a feat calls for strict adherence to a well-established and streamlined clinical workflow.

Perinatal nurses—caregivers who support the miracle of childbirth—must display an uncanny talent for agile task management. They are key players in helping set a strong health foundation for both mom and baby embarking on a new and exciting journey. To perform their roles with the utmost efficiency, perinatal professionals rely on tools like fetal monitoring systems tuned to the unique challenges of dual patient care. When these perinatal tools are properly integrated with other HIT structures, many of the risks that come with bringing a new life into the world can be mitigated.

Examining patient data during labor allows little room for error or time to rectify data discrepancies. A well-thought and developed integration between OBIX, an electronic fetal monitoring system (EFM), and the MEDHOST EHR is helping to make the seamless and unified flow of perinatal data a standard for hospital OB and labor units.

A Top Perinatal Care Challenge

All clinicians are required to manage multiple sets of patient data day-to-day, however, few clinicians are required to navigate simultaneously occurring patient data challenges on the fly like the perinatal nurse.

At the bedside during a patient’s labor, perinatal care professionals must process health information for both mom and baby with speed, efficiency, and clarity. A study from The Journal of perinatal & neonatal nursing, as well as, an article published by the American Society of Registered Nurses (ASRN), both point to the critical need to clearly record and communicate vital signs for both patients. The ASRN article goes on to note “that auscultation with stringent evaluation and recording frequency is not feasible under normal labor and delivery room conditions unless 1:1 nursing care is always available.” In times when a one-to-one ratio is not possible, FHR (fetal heart rate) monitoring becomes an even bigger challenge.

How to Effectively Consolidate Perinatal Patient Health Data

Since no patient’s labor is the same, perinatal nurses have to constantly monitor the mother’s heart rate while tracking and interpreting fetal heart rate (FHR) readings that could indicate potential issues. Simultaneously, perinatal nurses must also be able to easily update the mother’s medical record so accurate information can be added from the maternal chart to the new baby’s record. If the mother’s patient data is being documented in separate systems, risk and discrepancies can result in the disruption of care. Fortunately, OBIX helps consolidate every perinatal data point into a shared, single location.

Developed by Clinical Computer Systems Inc., the OBIX perinatal data system offers a comprehensive view of electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) which includes FHR outputs. OBIX also provides the capability to interface with other hospital data systems, like an EHR. In some cases, this level of integration does not come standard for labor and OB units nationwide. The integration between OBIX and MEDHOST EHR works to mitigate the risks of managing patient data for two people at once as well as help add efficiency to the perinatal workflow.

In our discussion with John Murray from Clinical Computer Systems Inc., he notes two fundamental ways the OBIX-MEDHOST integration works to support labor and OB units.

  • Single sign-on for end users eliminates the need to switch between separate charting systems.
  • Mirrored documentation helps ensure integrity of medical record, helping to reduce risk and ensure patient data matches open records.

According to Murray, much of their success was due to a “spirit of collaboration” that arose between the MEDHOST and OBIX teams. Building off this shared value, the integration teams were able to add a high level of functionality that would best serve the end-users with added confidence.

From day-one, both MEDHOST and OBIX worked diligently to plan out and scope how the EFM system would interface with the EHR prior to development and deployment. Once the most effective connections were established, rigorous testing ensued; a strictly systematic implementation would soon follow.

Bringing a new life into the world takes a level of focus and agility that cannot be derailed by inefficiencies. The OBIX-MEDHOST integration is built with the goal to help perinatal nurses keep their patients’ progression and health during labor priority number one. The meticulously planned and tested health IT integration helps remove unnecessary switching between systems from the perinatal practice by providing a single point of entry and record for critical patient data.

Nurses and clinicians working in the OB unit don’t have time to wrangle varied systems and as Murray notes, they don’t need to concern themselves with how an integration works. It is enough for them to know that the system will do what it is supposed to: help reduce risk and add efficiency to their core care duties. With confidence in the technology they use to support their jobs, perinatal care professionals can more easily help mom and baby move forwards towards a bright future.

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