Ebola case shows “critical and acute information goes unnoticed”

Mike Doyle, CEO of QPID Health, was asked to provide his comments to Alison Diana of InformationWeek Healthcare (Oct. 3) on the news from Texas that a patient later diagnosed with Ebola had been released to his home after his first hospital visit. Apparently a nurse had documented that the patient had been in Liberia, but this may not have been noticed or considered by the physician.

Mike helped shed further light on the problem:

I don’t think anyone would argue if that [Texas] physician had known that person was from West Africa he would not have discharged that patient. Unfortunately, in today’s healthcare world, data is very, very siloed. Inpatient systems don’t talk to outpatient systems. Eighty percent of data in electronic health systems is unstructured so it’s very hard to report. As a result, critical and acute information goes unnoticed — and this is a very prime example of that.

Although Texas Presbyterian Hospital first blamed the issue on the design of its EHR, they later retracted that. While the facts of this case remain unclear, the reality is that today’s EHRs bury essential information. As noted in the article:

Many hospitals complain about interoperability problems within their EHRs — between disparate workgroups, such as doctors and nurses, or different departments, including emergency rooms and cardiology — that lead to errors. The technology is new and many providers are in the early stages of adoption, seeking software and procedures that fine-tune capabilities and eliminate mistakes like this, experts said. Having evolved from billing, newer systems now focus more on clinician and patient needs, they said, and these later editions provide more of the capabilities, tools, and features medical users need.

The author notes that to address these issues “healthcare providers can purchase third-party products, such as QPID Health’s clinical intelligence software, that discerns patient information from EHRs and other sources, and then delivers it to clinical and administrative workflows.” QPID Health is adding specific Ebola-screening functions to our software, Mike also explained.

QPID Health is committed to making healthcare better, and to a world in which the IT systems we use enhance the ability of nurses, doctors and patients to communicate and take the best course of action.