Mobile triage promises to boost ER care for veterans

The Veterans Health Administration plans to deploy a mobile triage solution for the emergency room. The idea for the touch-screen triage tablet came from a VA Employee Innovation Competition. Orlando, Fla.-based DSHI Systems emerged as one of the winners.

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The competition generated more than 6,500 ideas. Twenty-six were slated for development and testing.

DSHI’s triage expert system automatically determines how urgently a patient needs to be seen by a doctor. This allows the emergency room nurses to identify and care for the sickest patients first. The system elevates the standard of care by improving the accuracy of triage and standardizing the process, DSHI executives say. In addition, it improves workflow by automating documentation and identifying which patients require additional resources, such as cardiac monitors, CT scans, X-rays, blood tests and other diagnostic tests.

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For the past 12 years, DSHI has provided the VA with a triage call center solution that is used by call center nurses across the country.

“Our experience in the VA gives us an advantage in creating this exciting new tool for the emergency department,” says Stephen Schueler, MD, an emergency medicine physician and DSHI founder. “Our goal is to improve triage decision making and streamline workflow in the emergency department. This can lead to better patient outcomes, while increasing the efficiency of the ER.”

DSHI Systems is partnered with Document Storage Systems, which is the primary contractor on the project. DSS will provide an interface into the VA electronic medical record, as well as pass vital signs and other biometric data to the triage expert system. The combined solution, called ER Mobile, will make it possible for nurses to perform timely, accurate triage on a mobile device anywhere in the ER, as well as create a comprehensive record that will be recorded in the VA EMR.

The ER mobile prototype is scheduled for completion in August 2012.