For the past several years, surveillance systems sistem de supraveghere for health care facilities have been used in many hospitals and other health care settings around the country. Surveillance is the process of watching for any changes in the health of a patient that may indicate the presence of a particular illness or condition. These systems have helped to reduce the number of preventable deaths among patients and to detect outbreaks of disease before they spread. Surveillance has also helped to improve the overall quality of care provided to patients and to reduce the cost of caring for these individuals. Surveillance is often used as a component of an integrated health care infrastructure, which means that it is integrated into the overall health care strategy.
Historically, the purpose of the surveillance system has been to prevent epidemics within the population and to track disease occurrence within specific resident populations. The first surveillance system, designed in 1941, used telephone interviewing and electronic medical records (EMR) to monitor infections and disease outbreaks. Since then, surveillance systems have become increasingly sophisticated and integrated, using various modes of communication to collect data, including electronic health records (EHR), hospital discharge papers, and health information management systems (HIMS). With the implementation of EHR software, medical records can be easily manipulated by physicians, making it easier to identify patterns or to follow up on those patterns.
A high quality surveillance system will allow for the collection of surveillance data on a continual basis. This data will be available to the surveillance team for analysis and reporting. Data collection will typically focus on documented illnesses or conditions, but may also include information from laboratory or radiology studies. As medical knowledge and skills grow, surveillance data will likely expand to include more specific characteristics of each patient. For example, patient demographics will likely be captured in addition to detailed descriptions of each illness or condition. Some surveillance systems are designed to automatically provide a summary of each patient’s history to the surveillance team.
Other types of information that may be collected through a surveillance system include pharmacy records, vital signs, progress notes, special notes, progress reports, discharge summaries, hospitalizations, emergency department (ED) records, and drug evaluations. Electronic health care delivery applications (EHR) greatly simplify the process of patient care delivery by significantly speeding up communications between healthcare providers and patients. The introduction of EHR software has resulted in a significant decrease in time spent on patient care by healthcare workers. Many EHRs have automated patient data entry, greatly reducing the amount of time required to enter data manually. In addition, EHR software ensures that all aspects of patient care are documented, which decreases the risk of patient fraud and decreases the possibility of medical negligence.
Surveillance systems that incorporate EHRs will most likely require wireless network connectivity for optimal performance. Network security must be adequate to protect sensitive data. Ensuring system security while integrating EHR software into a surveillance system requires configuration of firewall, antivirus programs, and other protective measures. In addition, it may be necessary to install additional hardware, such as a firewall or antivirus scanner, or make other changes, depending on the type of system and the location of the devices used to implement the system.
As important as it is to properly configure and use surveillance devices, they are not without their drawbacks. While using an EHR reduces the amount of time spent entering and leaving patient information, it may reduce the amount of time available to patients themselves to enter and leave information. Likewise, some devices used to facilitate patient care can interfere with or even record conversations between patients and healthcare workers, thus violating patient confidentiality. Some devices may require patients to update their information on a regular basis, further complicating the task of patient care.
While surveillance devices provide an important service by allowing healthcare workers to detect potential hazards and problems, they do not have the same level of protection as a proper surveillance system. Often, surveillance equipment is not as visible as a full surveillance system and may not be password protected. Furthermore, there are limits placed on the locations in which surveillance devices are used. Therefore, healthcare workers must ensure that the devices they use are within the scope of their job. A physician’s or nurse’s assistant’s responsibility is significantly higher than a patient caretakers’.
The greatest risk to a medical facility is patient safety, and a surveillance system is only a tool used to reduce that risk. Careful planning and implementation of EHR systems allow for the capture of important patient information without compromising patient privacy. Also, EHR ensures that medical records are available for review and re-evaluation whenever necessary. As a result, patient health is better cared for and errors are reduced. Ultimately, this leads to better patient care, happier patients and higher satisfaction ratings.