The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

Original Contributions

August 2002 / Volume 47 / Number 8 / Page 887

Impact of a Radio Frequency Management Information System on the Process and Timing of Providing Respiratory Care Services

James K Stoller MSc MD FAARC, Lucy Kester MBA RRT FAARC, Douglas K Orens RRT MBA, and Kevin McCarthy R-CPT

BACKGROUND: Although radio frequency (RF) systems have proliferated and are designed to simplify care delivery in many clinical settings, little information is available on the impact of such RF systems on the delivery of patient care. Having used a hand-held-device-based management information system in our Respiratory Therapy Section for 16 years, we assessed the impact of an RF system on the delivery of respiratory therapy (RT) services. METHODS: A single nursing unit dedicated to pulmonary and ear, nose, and throat care was selected for the RF system trial. Baseline (pre-RF) data were collected over 2 separate 1-month intervals (February 1999 and February 2000). The main outcome measures were (1) the amount of time needed at the beginning of the shift to organize and assign orders for RT services, (2) the time interval between notification of an RT consult order and completion of the RT consult, and (3) the time interval between notification of an RT treatment order and completion of the RT treatment. The activities required for organizing and assigning the orders were manually timed. Starting 6 weeks after therapists were trained to use the RF system, similar data were collected while using the RF system for two 1-month intervals (February and March 2001). RESULTS: The mean ± SD time interval between receiving an RT consult order and completing the consult was reduced from 7.8 ± 18.9 h to 2.8 ± 2.4 h (p = 0.002). The percentage of patients who waited longer than 8 hours between receipt of a consult order and completion of the consult decreased from 18% to 4.7% (p = 0.026). The total time required for organizing and assigning RT work was reduced from 81.6 min to 43.6 min. CONCLUSIONS: The RF system had several advantages over the hand-held-device-based system: (1) shorter interval between the order for and completion of an RT consult, (2) lower percentage of patients for whom the interval between the order and the consult exceeded 8 hours, and (3) less time required to make shift assignments. These results invite assessment of whether accelerated delivery of RT services confers clinical benefits.
Key words: radio frequency, management information system, respiratory care services.
[Respir Care 2002;47(8):893–897]

Introduction

Although radio frequency (RF) systems have proliferated with the intention to simplify and enhance delivery of care in many clinical settings, little attention has been given to evaluating the impact of such RF systems on the delivery of care. In the context of longstanding use (16 y) in our Section of Respiratory Therapy of a hand-held-device-based management information system, we wished to assess the impact of an RF system on the delivery of respiratory care services. To address this question and the lack of information in the available respiratory care literature, this observational study was undertaken to assess whether an RF management system would accelerate the delivery of respiratory care services to inpatients in the Cleveland Clinic Hospital.

The entire text of this article is available in the printed version of the August 2002 RESPIRATORY CARE.

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