The Paradigm Shift in Perioperative Nursing

Consider the jobs of a heart surgeon and a perioperative nurse who can be found standing side by side…

Both share a common goal: Saving Lives

Both work in a very hectic environment: The Operating Room

Both handle some of the most expensive and most technologically advanced medical devices available …

The Healthcare Resource Management Paradigm Shift: From Data Gatherer to Data Analyzer

It is in these medical devices that one can find the irony of healthcare.  That is we have advanced technology to a point where we can diagnose a patient using  microscopic cameras and unblock an artery with a drug coated stent, but yet we store and track these items in largely neanderthal ways.  Pen and paper documentation, manual inventory counts and unsecured storage are the unfortunate realities a perioperative nurse has to deal with.  As a result time, money and a whole lot of effort is wasted ultimately putting healthcare providers in a financial bind.

Recently however this has begun to change as supply automation systems using barcode and RFID technologies are becoming more prevalent within hospitals.  This trend toward using technology to not only improve the ability of the surgeon to operate, but also support the nurses and hospital itself in the care delivery process signals a major shift in the job responsibilities of perioperative clinicians.

Using the term “Data gatherer to data analyzer” or “Paradigm Shift” is nothing more than a fancy way of saying there job responsibilities will change for the better.  Here’s a look at how some notoriously troublesome processes for staff within surgical units across the country and how they are being shaped by technology.

  • Documenting procedures using pen, paper and charge stickers: While some organizations have made minor improvements using Manual Technologies (Barcode based solutions), it is clear that RFID is the most effective way to capture this information at the point of use.
  • Physically counting on hand inventory: Will be a thing of the past as an accurate, real time view will be available from your desktop. (Ex. pictured above)
  • Frantically searching shelves for the exact size device a doctor requests will now be as simple as keying in a search of the product description and instantly being able to see the exact location and quantity on hand

Ultimately these automation technologies  signal a shift in focus from simply making sure the correct supplies are available when the doctor needs them to a focus on increasing the quality and efficiency of the care we deliver.