Case Study | November 03, 2014

Remote Access Helps Speed Patient Care and Improve Physician Work/Life Balance

Shannon Medical Center stays on the leading edge

McKesson, ECG software, remote ECG access

McKesson Cardiology ECG Mobile extends remote access with the ability for physicians to view and report on ECG waveforms from an iPad.

Shannon Medical Center has long prided itself on the quality care it provides to patients in the Concho Valley of West Texas. For over 80 years the hospital, licensed for more than 400 beds, has proudly served the growing area and is the designated lead level III trauma center for the region. Hospital surgeons performed the first open-heart surgery in the region in 1988, cementing the hospital’s reputation as a leading provider of cardiac services from its base in San Angelo. 
A patient anxiously waiting for potentially life-changing news wants to know the results from scans and tests as quickly as possible, so speed is of the essence. The need to consolidate disparate images onto one system and view them remotely and securely brought Shannon Medical Center to McKesson Cardiology six years ago, recalls Derek Clark, application administrator for the medical center and the 200-provider Shannon Clinic.
The desire to guide product development and remain on the leading edge of cardiac care led Shannon to become a beta testing site for McKesson Cardiology 13.1, which extends remote access with the ability for physicians to view ECG waveforms and results on iPads. 
Testing is already paying off in terms of better patient care and improved work/life balance for physicians. “A physician on call can be at home, for example, and take a call about a patient with an ECG that needs to be reviewed,” Clark said. “He can grab his iPad*, log on to the system and expedite care. That’s happened a few times already.”
Near-immediate Access Helps Improve Patient Care
Convenience of record access and storage are among the primary reasons Shannon Medical Center chose McKesson Cardiology in the first place. Before adopting an electronic cardiovascular information system (CVIS), the hospital and clinic had disparate silos of solutions that stored records on paper, on tape and electronically. The hospital had ECGs stored electronically and echocardiograms on tape. But the clinic had electronic echo results and paper ECGs, all of which created confusion when physicians were looking for test results.
Clark said McKesson Cardiology instilled order on the chaos, bringing the data together in one searchable system that allowed authorized users to see comprehensive cardiac data on a patient without multiple logins or other roadblocks.
“You can pull up a (patient) name and see every cardio?related test without worrying that other tests were performed, whether in the hospital or the clinic,” Clark said. “It provides one picture of the patient in one spot — regardless of who the physician is.”
Patients who are referred to Shannon Medical Center or ?Shannon Clinic also benefit from the functionality of McKesson Cardiology. Patients can bring in cardiac studies performed at other facilities that can be loaded into the system for study or comparison with subsequent studies to determine changes over time.
Once cardiac images are taken, they are available for remote viewing in near real time. That can save time to diagnosis and decrease length of stay, said Clark, using an example of a patient in a cath lab procedure room. Since a surgeon can log in and see images almost instantaneously, he may request a different view while the patient still is in the procedure room allowing for the surgeon to proactively plan care and for the patient to not be exposed to more testing than necessary.
Specialists in the area who have credentials at Shannon are able to access images, reports and waveforms of their patients in the same speedy time frame, instead of having to wait for that information to be sent overnight or by courier.
Giving Physicians Their Lives Back
In addition to the obvious patient benefits such as quicker access to diagnoses and the start of appropriate care, McKesson Cardiology also allows physicians to work more effectively. Clark continues to receive positive comments from physicians who are saving time by accessing results and images remotely.
“Clinic physicians who need to read a group of ECGs while doing rounds can log in and view a few at a time between other tasks,” Clark explained. “The work is spread out throughout the day, results are delivered to patients quicker and the physicians work at a more comfortable pace. This has helped them from being inundated by a stack of ECGs after a long day of caring for patients, giving them time back in their day. We see this benefit all the time.”
Another example is the physician who wants to spend time with the family but still has work to do. Rather than bring electronic or physical files home, which can cause privacy and security concerns, he can log in from his home office and continue to work without having to drive back to the office or the hospital.
As the U.S. population continues to age, specialists face increasing work pressures, so finding ways to help improve work/life balance is important. “The feedback I receive is that physicians love it because it gives them the ability to see images and test results in a timely manner and get their lives back,” Clark said. 
‘I Feel it’s a Partnership Working with McKesson’
Shannon Medical Center has evolved into a close relationship with McKesson over the years that continues today. Any system will develop the occasional hiccup that requires help desk assistance, and the service a client receives often will be the difference between an overall positive experience and a negative one. Shannon’s experience with McKesson has been very positive, Clark said.
“I’ve found the help desk and support to be good, responsive and quick to act,” the administrator noted “We’ve been really pleased with the system and the partnership as a whole.”
The medical center has more than 25 years of experience in open-heart surgery and extensive experience in peripheral vascular procedures, cardiac catheterizations and interventional procedures such as balloon angioplasties, stents, lasers and intravascular atherectomies. The reputation of its cardiac services unit and the desire to stay at the leading edge of care delivery is one reason the hospital agreed to beta test McKesson Cardiology 13.1.
Beta testing can create a feeling of uneasiness. But Clark said that Shannon was comfortable serving as a test site because of its past dealings with the McKesson Cardiology group and a belief it could deliver a quality product even in the beta phase. “I feel it’s a partnership working with McKesson on their systems,” Clark said. “We can tell them what we like and don’t like, and help grow the product.”
For More Information:
* iPad is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.
This case study was supplied by McKesson

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