Kaweah Delta launches electronic health care records system
Hospital launches KD*Hub to provide patients easy access to electronic health care records, simplified billing, families with real-time status updates; begins expansion of NICU and ICCU to open spring 2019
By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN
VISALIA – Kaweah Delta Medical Center continues to earn recognitions and honors for cutting-edge surgical procedures, state-of-the-art simulation and training programs, as well as innovative methods for improving patient care. But when it comes to providing patients and their families with up-to-date information, easy access to their health care records, and streamlining its billing process, Tulare County’s largest hospital is a little behind the times.
That is, until yesterday. On May 1, Kaweah Delta launched its electronic health records system called KD*Hub. The health care district has partnered with Cerner, one of the top health care information technology companies in the world, to bring a more modern electronic health records system to the hospital. This new system will allow Kaweah Delta to create for patients, one health care record complete with all the tests, treatments, and medications they receive while at Kaweah Delta. It also brings with it a new patient portal called “MyHealth Kaweah Delta” and a new, simplified billing process that means less paperwork and more efficient care.
“As this new system launches, delays are expected initially as we work to ensure patient information is complete and accurate,” said Doug Leeper, chief information officer for Kaweah Delta. “Ultimately, this system will help us better care for our patients by improving the way we communicate as a team about their health needs.”
Community members are encouraged to ensure that their information is complete and accurate during the transition. Patients are also being asked to share their medication form with their providers, available for download at www.kaweahdelta.org/medform, which helps track medications. The new system will ensure that medications are filled at the patient’s pharmacy prior to their discharge.
In addition to the hospital, KD*Hub will also give patients access to records from Kaweah Delta’s other facilities, such as the rehabilitation hospital, urgent care, clinics, outpatient facilities and laboratory service centers.
KD*Hub is part of an overall effort to improve efficiency, increase patient privacy, and to create more space to house more staff. Last month, Kaweah Delta opened its newly renovated surgery center. The renovation tripled the square footage and expanded the surgery center from 12 patient beds in two rooms to 18 private beds in its pre- and post-operative surgery area. This project also added more staffing to the surgery center, which went from three registered nurses to six, added two nursing assistants and a unit secretary.
Additionally, this project consolidated two split waiting areas into one expanded and enhanced waiting area. One of the key additions is a large display that provides updates to loved ones as patients move through the surgery process. Nurses use computer terminals in the room to update patient information, which cycles through each patient’s status every 4-5 minutes. The color-coded display uses patient codes given only to staff and the family for privacy.
“Family members can instantly see what’s going on with patients,” said Benton Duckett, director of surgical services. “Doctors and nurses can also communicate through the system which used to be done through a phone system.”
Acequia builds out and up
Kaweah Delta CEO Gary Herbst said streamlining information between doctors, nurses and patients is part of a three-pronged approach to improving care at the hospital. He said efficiencies realized through KD*Hub may not affect the long wait times that plague the emergency department. That feat will require more space and more staff, two issues that became alarmingly apparent during this winter’s flu season when Kaweah Delta had to add a second overflow tent to its emergency department to handle the rising cases of influenza. The wave of incoming patients was intensified by the closure of Tulare Regional Medical Center and its 100-bed emergency department.
“We are beyond full capacity,” Herbst said. “Every day we had 20-30 people in a conference room drawing on a whiteboard trying to organize bed space.”
In order to meet that need in future flu seasons, Kaweah Delta has begun work to complete the 5th and 6th floor of its Acequia Wing tower. Only the first four floors were completed when the Acequia Wing opened in 2009, with the 5th and 6th floors left as shells for future expansion. Herbst said this allowed the hospital to piece mail the cost of renovations without taking out a large loan. Both floors will meet the new earthquake requirements set by the state and are expected to open in spring 2019.
The 5th floor will add 24 new intermediate critical care unit (ICCU) beds to the hospital. Patients are admitted to the ICCU who need a higher level of care than a regular hospital bed or ICU patients who no longer require intensive care.
Herbst said these beds are important because the hospital has been at or near capacity for two years. The new ICCU beds will help Kaweah Delta cut down on the time it takes to admit patients from the emergency department to permanent beds in the hospital.
“This hospital is extraordinarily busy,” said Dr. Joe Malli, an intensivist in the ICCU. “The move to increase the number of beds is essential to providing a greater service to the community.”
The 6th floor of the six-story tower will expand the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) from 15 beds to 23 beds and provide six times more space than the current NICU, which cares for the hospital’s littlest patients, babies born 15 weeks premature. The new NICU will continue to be staffed by Valley Children’s Medical Group, which signed an exclusive agreement to provide medical staffing at Kaweah Delta’s NICU.
The Kaweah Delta Hospital Foundation is currently fundraising to pay for 23 Giraffe Beds, which help save lives by continuously monitoring the premature baby’s heartbeat and vitals from within the bed.
The future NICU will give new parents a private room to sit in and bond with their baby while he or she is in intensive care. It will also be more conveniently located for the benefit of new moms who are still patients recovering after delivery.
“The size of the patient rooms will be three times larger,” said Dr. Jose Marius Dosado, medical director of the NICU. “This will provide more privacy for patients.”
The NICU and ICCU expansions will be paid for with partial proceeds from the $100 million revenue bonds sold by Kaweah Delta in December 2015. Principal and interest will be repaid to bond holders from revenues received for providing patient care services.