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April 6, 2009- Doctor uses EHR to help patient understand care

In talking about how informatics can transform patient care, Patricia Natale still gets excited when she recalls the story of a hematologist at Detroit Medical Center and her patient.

Natale, chief nursing officer and vice president of patient-care service at DMC, told the story to several hundred executives and informaticians who gathered Saturday for the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's 2009 Nursing Informatics Symposium in Chicago.

Natale said the hematologist was having a difficult time convincing the patient of the counterintuitive idea that she should stop getting the blood transfusions she had gotten used to receiving whenever her blood counts dropped too low. The hematologist tried explaining that after a certain point, the transfusions could be placing her in more jeopardy because when she received donor blood, a physiological signal was being sent to her bone marrow to stop producing new cells.

So how to convince the patient that her transfusions might be doing more harm than good? The hematologist gave her a computer printout from DMC's electronic health record showing in exactly how her reticulocyte counts dropped following her transfusions. Not only did it help convince the patient, but it subtly gave her a way to participate in her own care by giving her evidence that she could then show to the next physician who wanted to transfuse her.

Natale told the audience that was the kind of inspiring anecdote executives and administrators can use to convince their skeptical staff members”and themselves”about the value of an EHR. "It gave me goosebumps," Natale said.

Courtesy ModernHealthcare.com ~ Story by Joe Carlson

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