DoD Rolls Out Computerized Medical Records for Anesthesia

by U.S. Medicine

December 14, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC—DoD is in the midst of deploying a tool that will automate recordkeeping for anesthesiologists.

Innovian® Anesthesia will be used at the hospital at Kandahar Airfield in Afganistan

Innovian® Anesthesia, a tool developed by Draeger Medical, collects vital signs and other information to generate a computerized medical record for anesthesia. Generically referred to as an Anesthesia Recording and Monitoring Device (ARMD) in DoD, the tool is now in the midst of widespread deployment to DoD MTFs. Roll out of the system is expected in a total of 65 MTFs in the US and abroad sometime in 2011.

Navy Cmdr John Bastien, anesthesiology specialty leader to the Navy Surgeon General who also served as the Navy’s functional lead for the Anesthesia Recording and Monitoring Panel, said that anesthesiologists will benefit from the electronic capture of data performed by the system. “All of us hand wrote anesthesia records. That is how we trained. Even today, the majority of institutions in the country still have paper records. So the military is actually at the forefront of institutionalizing electronic recordkeeping for anesthetic care.”

Electronic Recordkeeping

The system is designed to run on a medical-grade computer workstation attached to an anesthesia machine. The workstation is connected to all other medical devices in the operating room and automatically captures vital information to generate a computerized medical record for anesthesia. The computerized records can be retrieved and reviewed by anesthesia providers prior to performing additional anesthetic procedures.

Automated recordkeeping allows anesthesiologists to have access to legible anesthesia records. “What automated recordkeeping does is allow us to record automatically all physiologic data that occurs during a surgical procedure, and that results in a very accurate and legible anesthesia record, which is a vast improvement over a written record,” Bastien explained.

Bastien said that using automated recordkeeping also frees up the anesthesia provider to focus entirely on the patient, since the charting is automatically occurring electronically.

The ability to retrieve patient’s past anesthetic encounters also benefits the anesthesiologist, noted Bastien. “What that provides for the anesthesia provider is that he or she can open the case that occurred previously and look to see if there were any difficulties that were encountered during that case that would offer clues to what potential challenges may lie ahead for the current anesthetic plan.”

Having this information easily accessible is especially helpful when paper records are not readily available. “For example, at 2:30 in the morning when your medical records department is closed, it is very easy in a matter of 10 to 15 seconds to pull out the past anesthetic encounter in an automated recordkeeping device.”

System Benefits Patients

The system recently deployed to the hospital at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan. Bastien said that eventually DoD would like to have anesthetic care documented electronically for the entire continuum of care for injured servicemembers, from the moment servicemembers undergo their first anesthetic encounter in theater and following them home.

There are two phases for implementation of the system. The first phase that DoD is currently in is the procurement and installation of the devices at DoD facilities. Phase II is the connectivity of the device to other systems, such as the surgical scheduling software, Essentris® and/or AHLTA. While the decision has not been made yet about which systems the device will connect to, Bastien said that it is clear that “the systems all need to talk to one another because very powerful information is in all of those platforms.”

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