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Why Patient Records and Workflow Management are Not the Same: Comparing Apples and Oranges

There are a few fundamentals for effective clinical processes, and an Electronic Patient Record (EPR) is one of them. But what do EPRs actually bring to the table, and is it enough?


Conversation with Mr. Krisztian Deierl, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and Orthopaedic Trauma Lead at West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (WHTH), provides valuable insights. With extensive experience spanning different clinical settings, including Hungary and Germany, Mr. Deierl is well-versed in the digital tools that have become integral to modern healthcare, stating, "They are designed for different reasons, and you get different benefits from each.”


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Don’t compare apples with oranges

So, what’s the primary role of EPRs? Krisztian explains, "If I need a database, I can use the EPR to access a comprehensive clinical history and investigation results." Essentially, the EPR serves as a necessary digital repository for patient information. However, as Krisztian emphasises, it doesn't facilitate the generation of workflow efficiency.


To illustrate this concept, Krisztian offers an analogy involving ordering food online. You have a menu, and you look through the menu to select your food. You then need a way to place your order and track its progress—from when it's received to being prepared, when it’s with the delivery driver, and the estimated arrival time.


This creates a clear distinction: there's a solution for the menu (the EPR) and a separate one for providing the flow of food through a timeline to your home. You have a seamless experience as a user because the distinct solutions are integrated. You may change the menu, but the flow stays the same. Likewise, you can use a different solution to manage the food order without changing the menu.


So what’s the problem?

Imagine handling the huge influx of patients in an entire department with paper. There are several challenges with this approach, including "limited information, illegible handwriting, and untraceability,” Krisztian says. It would lead to gaps in critical information about the referred patient, making it impossible to make safe decisions; therefore, these “untraceable referrals” were rejected.


And as with any other healthcare facility relying on paper, WHTH’s T&O department was faced with these workflow challenges. Krisztian was determined to change this, and his vision was clear: create a safe patient care environment and empower clinicians to be the best clinicians they can be.


EPRs are not always the answer

The solution was found in PathpointⓇ eTrauma, a robust platform that enabled effective clinical processes with genuine efficiency and transparency, or, as Krisztian describes it, “full control of their workflow.”


eTrauma's effectiveness stems from its specialty-specific design and its intricate customisation to the specific requirements of the T&O department. It addressed each and every challenge with tailored functionality, smart automation, and an intuitive interface. Notably, it streamlined patient triage with a dynamic and detailed worklist for patient prioritisation. As Krisztian highlighted, eTrauma enabled "the right care, for the right patient, at the right place and time."


It's not a question of either/or

This isn't to diminish the value of EPRs; after all, the menu is unquestionably necessary, but it alone cannot provide the timeline and workflow efficiency, as Krisztian explains.


When the EPR was introduced at WHTH, concerns about redundancy with the existing digital systems arose. However, Krisztian clarifies that eTrauma and the EPR "were implemented for different reasons.”


Each serves its own function, as Krisztian explains, “The EPR is great; it has all the patient information in one place. However, in terms of patient flow management, the EPR and patient flow solutions are not the same thing; they are two intertwined solutions for two distinct purposes."


Therefore, Krisztian advises that, when implementing digital systems, careful selection is crucial to ensuring they deliver the necessary functionalities for your specific circumstances. If a record is what's required, the EPR will fulfil that role. If the goal is effective flow management, solutions like eTrauma offer the answer.


But does it have to be either/or? Like Krisztian says, "Digital solutions should work together.”


Unlocking maximum value

A patient flow management platform like eTrauma enables, as Krisztian describes it, "the running of an efficient unit." On the other hand, an EPR enables easy and quick access to pertinent patient information for safer, more informed decisions. But when a specific event in the patient's journey is required, the EPR alone falls short.


So what happens when you combine the two? The workflow management system will fill the gap the EPR leaves open. This is when the value of the solutions can be increased; they each provide a piece of the puzzle, but it is only when used together that you reap the benefits.


The true potential of EPRs emerges when integrated with complementary digital solutions that orchestrate the flow, providing clinicians with all the tools to make well-informed, data-driven decisions.


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