An EVS Manager’s Guide to Interoperability
Interoperability has become a buzzword within hospital facilities. But what does it mean for EVS Teams? Below, we discuss how interoperability between software applications can streamline bed turnover communications between clinical and EVS teams, and reduce the amount of time they spend relaying information.
You’ve probably experienced this as a patient at some point: you go to the doctor and fill out several pages of forms with your personal information and medical history. And then on the next visit, you have to fill out the same information all over again…and again…and again.
Hospital employees can often face the same frustration every day when sharing information between departments. Hospital facilities often use one software application for their admission-discharge-transfer (ADT) or EHR system, and have a completely different system for the Environmental Services Department—even if it’s just a spreadsheet— to track what needs to be cleaned and when. Every time a patient is discharged or transferred in the ADT system, a member of the EVS team is notified either digitally or manually, after which they clean the room and notify bed management that it is complete. Then either the EVS team has to enter this same information into their own software—or track discharge cleans only in the ADT system and all other EVS tasks in the EVS software, which makes reporting difficult and time-consuming.
This scenario plays out over and over as patient rooms are turned over. That’s countless hours spent entering and reentering the same information.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Automating information flow between applications reduces the delay of information, and relieves workers of having to enter the same information over and over.
This is what interoperability means: the ability for multiple applications to work together to share information safely and securely, without the need for manual reentry in each separate application.
In order to achieve interoperability, however, these applications have to use the same framework for sharing information. The reality is, hospitals use hundreds of software applications: from billing, to labs, to social work, to pharmacy––and each of them have different standards for how they store information. The developers of two different software programs can work together to establish an interface with each other that provides a flow of information. But, building a unique interface between each software application a hospital uses is unrealistic. Instead, hospital software programs need global standards for relaying information.
This is where HL7 comes in. A non-profit organization called Health Level Seven International (HL7) was established in 1987 to create standards for “the exchange, integration, sharing, and retrieval of electronic health information that supports clinical practice and the management, delivery, and evaluation of health services.”
Using these standards, software developers can create one clear method for sharing data with any other software: making it possible for different departments to share information seamlessly while maintaining the applications that work best for each department.
Working Together—Smart Facility Software is HL7 Compliant
At its core, Smart Facility Software is about optimizing the workflow of EVS Departments. That’s why our flagship products are all named with optimization in mind. Our software covers more bases in EVS Management than any other, which is why it is such a critical tool for so many EVS Teams across the country.
But other departments rely on applications that are equally as critical to their operations. To avoid each department doing double data entry duty, we facilitate the seamless exchange of that information with our HL7 Interface, which allows our software to receive and send messages directly to and from your hospital’s EHR application. This exchange reduces the delay of information, which in turn greatly reduces bed turnover time, allowing more patients to be served.
One of our mottos at Smart Facility Software is: everything works better when it works together.
We believe software applications should work together to support health facilities’ needs. No one software can cover an entire hospital’s needs. Instead, every department and team should be able to use the software that works best for them. The ability to exchange information between these software applications is crucial to optimizing team members’ time, so they can focus on what matters: caring for patients, whether that be through cleaning or clinical care.
How it Works
Smart Facility Software does not ever handle or store HIPAA information. In the interest of keeping patient information secure, we use a 3rd-Party HL7 Interface, which receives the HL7 data from your EHR. It then strips out HIPAA data before sending only the necessary facility data to our application. Hospital administrators can feel secure, knowing that patient data never touches our servers.
Here’s how the flow of information works:
When a patient is discharged or transferred in a facility’s ADT system, a corresponding HL7 message is sent to our HL7 Interface. Our software receives only the room information and the associated action (i.e. discharge or transfer), which automatically triggers a room clean task in our ES Optimizer software. This information is delivered automatically and instantly, removing the need for manual communication or data reentry.
Our Task Assignment Decision Engine then distributes this task automatically to a member of your EVS team. Based on the rules you have set up in your facility’s software, the Decision Engine will find the best EVS Technician available, and that person will receive a task alert on their mobile device, along with all the information they need to complete that task.
When the technician is done cleaning the room, they simply mark the task as complete, and ES Optimizer sends a message back to the HL7 Interface that the room is clean and ready for the next patient: saving you time, and opening up a bed for another patient much sooner.
Our goal is always to save EVS Teams more time so they can serve more patients. Embracing interoperability in our EVS software cuts down the time staff spend entering and relaying information, increasing the bed turnover rate.
Ready to learn more about what our software can do for your EVS team?
Schedule a demo with us today. If you are already an ES Optimizer client and have questions about interoperability, call us anytime at 800–260-8665, ext. 8 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.