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In 1934, the Visiting Nurse Service of New York's founder, Lillian Wald, wrote:
“The day may soon dawn when we Americans can enjoy a measure of life and health that is consistent with our extraordinary resources and the intelligence of our people. The pioneers have begun their work. It is far from finished. New fields, new enterprises, are visible. The times call for the high spirit of the courageous pioneers among physicians, scientists, and nurses.”
Then, as now, we rely on the pioneers and visionaries among our staff to develop programs and systems that help to improve the care we provide to our patients and to improve their lives. Our most recent innovations include:
The outgrowth of a phenomenally successful research study, our TeleHealth program equips patients with electronic devices that allow them to check their vital signs and then transmit this data to a VNSNY nurse coordinator. If a patient’s results fall outside of parameters established by the patient’s nurse, steps are taken to determine why and whether additional care is warranted. With TeleHealth, changes in a patient’s health are often caught early enough to prevent rehospitalization and emergency room visits.
VNSNY was recently among the five finalists for a Computerworld award for Business Evolution through Mobilizing Field Workers. Nurses and other clinicians use pen-based computers with security software and wireless Internet access. Staff in the field spend less time returning to the office to input patient data, are able to access information from a patient’s bedside—and if a computer is stolen or lost, security software “freezes” the computer so that confidential patient records never fall into the wrong hands.
VNSNY is in the forefront of clinical data exchange. With New York State HEAL grant funding, our Information Services department has designed a program that allows our clinicians to receive lab reports and home care referrals from physicians’ offices electronically, and to send Plans of Care to physicians for their review.
VNSNY participates in several RHIOs, which are designed to compile and make accessible, with appropriate consent and security, health care data from numerous providers across a patient’s continuum of care. With a patient’s permission, for example, a VNSNY nurse may electronically access the medical history from a local hospital’s records, if that hospital is part of the RHIO. The result: Faster decisions in the field and more cost-effective care.
VNSNY patients benefit from the latest technology innovations with secure Web portals. Patients are able to access the clinical and demographic data collected during home visits, and they benefit indirectly when their physicians register to use the portal. Physicians have a secure, user-friendly system to access a robust set of clinical data, and they can electronically sign home care orders and write new orders based on a patient’s condition. This provides two key benefits—it empowers patients to engage more fully in their care, and it allows their physicians to quickly see a composite view of the patient, enabling better treatment plans and, ultimately, improved outcomes.