“Capital Region Medical Center will be the hospital of choice by providing excellent health care and excellent service. Our vision is to have highly dedicated employees and medical staff members that place the patient first and provide safe, personal, high quality, cost effective health care and continually seek innovative ways to meet the needs of the community and provide the greatest comfort the patient’s condition permits. Our medical staff will actively participate in the decision making process and provide leadership and insight into the improvements of clinical processes.”
That’s quite a lot for any facility to offer to its community. But what makes Capital Region stand apart even more is its innovative approach to information sharing and documentation. It’s an exciting and future based system that seamlessly integrates the hospital’s Clinical, Financial and Transcription software applications with FormFast automated documentation and forms on demand software. Together, these systems help Capital Region streamline operations, reduce costs and control a documentation system that runs in excess of 500 different forms.
“People like FormFast because it’s evolutionary. You’re not changing documents, (but) you’re completely automating your system,” explains Seifert.
She adds that her facility first looked at FormFast when it came time to replace specific equipment. “We wanted to do bar codes, and we knew that FormFast did them, so we decided to take a look.” According to Seifert, who kept a meticulous log of her facility’s FormFast Implementation, the work on requisitions with bar codes was completed in August 2000. But that was just the beginning of Capital Region’s “automation revolution”, which now encompasses the admissions process, clinical records, bedside documentation, and dozens of other clinical and support functions within the hospital.
“It’s gone remarkably well,” adds Seifert. “Especially with nursing. I’m a nurse myself, and I understand what nurses are going through. They have so much thrown at them…and what they want is something that will help them do their jobs better…not make their lives harder.” According to Seifert, the combination of FormFast software and bedside documentation has not only been accepted, but it’s yielded some definite patient benefits as well.
“The room for errors is definitely decreased with this system,” says Seifert. “The nurse is making entries on a specific patient while still in the room with that patient.”
FormFast software and its forms-on-demand also provide another benefit: ensuring that the forms nurses use are automatically labeled with each patient’s name. “As a nurse, I remember the old days with the blue cards. Every sheet of a record had to be stamped. Cards were sometimes put in the machine upside down, or the imprint was smudged and hard to read. And there were always the lost cards. It was a problem,” adds Seifert. “With FormFast forms on demand, when a nurse needs a new patient form, it prints out with the patient’s name already on it. It’s quick, it’s legible, and there are no delays. It is more efficient…and it’s better for patient safety too.”
FormFast also enables a new patient chart to be printed on the floor where that patient will be admitted. “In the past, nurses were looking for packets, stamping them, finding sheets missing, or finding old forms still in the packets. With our current system, we eliminate all those problems,” she adds. “We make sure that we keep the latest forms on line,” explains Seifert. “When we have a change, we make it once, in the computer, and from then on, all forms printed will be that latest version. We don’t have to go back, tear apart chart packs and reinsert forms… we’re not wasting man hours on any of those tasks anymore.”
Doris Bechel, Chairperson of Capital Region’s Forms Review Committee and Purchasing Agent for the hospital, also gives her hospital’s FormFast Implementation the thumbs up. “With FormFast, there’s no waste, no storage, and we’ve really cut costs we had under the old system.” Bechel explains that her facility has automated hundreds of forms to date, and more are on the horizon. “Not only have we eliminated costs we had before in sending complex forms to an outside printer, but we also had to print a lot of forms in our hospital print shop. With automated forms, the labor in our print shop is almost nil.” She continues, “Not only that, under the old system, we usually requisitioned significant quantities of forms with each order so we could get a price break. That was all right, unless we received a mandated change from JCAHO, or an update about a new law or recommendation. When that happened, we had to either delay implementation of the change—if that was possible— or waste all the forms we’d printed.”
But even positive change takes some getting used to. According to Bechel, hospital staff were hesitant about converting to automated forms. “At first, some people didn’t want to get involved. Then, once people saw how easy it was, it took off. Now everyone is asking for e-forms. No one wants to go back to our old way of doing things. With FormFast, we don’t just order forms; we print what we need, when we need it. It’s so easy, why wouldn’t we want to use their system?”
The education process, however, is key in converting to automated forms. According to Bechel, when a request for a form comes before her committee, and the request doesn’t include FormFast, she always asks why. “When we go back and talk to people, we find that they just didn’t realize they could use FormFast to create their form. Once they see the advantages, they always choose this option,” she says.
Capital Region is still assessing its cost savings with the FormFast system. Adds Bechel, “We know we’re not just talking about savings for printed forms, but we’ve also eliminated the need for lots of storage space, and manpower to order, inventory and assemble these forms into charts. Besides, people like the system and find it easy to use. That’s a savings too.”
And if the changes on the nursing divisions are outstanding, the changes in the hospital admissions process are just as dramatic. According to Myla Wright, LPN, Lead Registration staffer at the hospital, automated registration with FormFast has yielded dramatic pluses for patients and staff alike. “We were the first department to go with our Admission Face Sheet,” she explains. “Other forms and labels followed. We also now order the new patient charts to be printed on the division where the patient will be admitted. It’s literally the push of a button to make it happen.” According to Wright, in order to process hospital outpatients—who number about 150 per day—staff used to hand write information onto one of the forms. With FormFast, the required form now prints automatically. Adds Wright, “With this new system, it takes two to three minutes to admit a patient already in our system. If the patient is new, the process might take seven minutes.” And time isn’t the only savings on Wright’s mind, “With FormFast, instead of hand written forms, the forms not only look more professional, but they’re easier to read. And that’s a lot safer for our patients.” Wright says that patients as well as staff appreciate the shorter, more efficient processing time for admission. “The staff love this new system. I can tell you that if I said we had to go back to the blue cards, they just wouldn’t do it.”
While Seifert agrees that her facility has added tremendous value to its investment in applications software with FormFast, she also says that the automation revolution at her facility isn’t over. “FormFast offers FastFlow, which gives us the option of filling out electronic forms on-line. We also may look at more applications of the bar code capabilities available with FormFast. With the ease of the system, it’s up to us to see how far we want to take it.”
Her advice for anyone considering the leap into automated forms: “If you just want to invest in the system to do labels, you can certainly do that. But once people see what the system is capable of, they’ll want more.”