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Digital order sets adopted at Thunder Bay

Gordon PorterTHUNDER BAY, Ont. – Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre has introduced the use of digital order sets at the hospital, using technology supplied by Think Research of Toronto. Standardized tests and treatments, called order sets, ensure everyone involved in the care team is informed and follows the same instructions – leading to the best forms of care.

Following a patient diagnosis, order sets are approved and assigned by a physician. They are used by clinicians and guide standard procedures and patient care plans from admission to discharge and include steps for care such as the types of medical tests and diagnostics required, or medications to be prescribed. Order sets are research-based, with the best evidence used to create and standardize medical tests and therapies.

Traditionally, order sets have been printed out on paper and hand-signed by the attending physician. To improve the process, the hospital is saying farewell to paper and is adopting digital order sets. This further improves workflow and patient care, and is part of the hospital’s commitment to adopt standardized processes, tools, templates and resources that support quality care.

“Transitioning to digital and customizable order sets will support patient-centred care and promote a culture of quality and safety,” said Dr. Gordon Porter (pictured), chief of staff at the hospital. “Digital order sets find the right balance between efficiency and accessibility. Physicians having increased and convenient access to standardized, evidence-based guidelines will help improve patient safety.”

The adoption and implementation of the digital, quality based procedure order sets was sponsored by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Think Research will oversee the provincial effort to digitalize the current paper based QBP Order Set inventory that is specific to the hospital.

Using a standardized, digital approach to order sets is a significant process improvement that supports the hospital’s quality initiatives and enhances outcomes for patients.

“Standardizing practice through common order sets reduces clinical variability and allows for quality patient care ordered in a consistent and reliable manner,” said Porter. “Access to evidence-based guidelines at the bedside supports clinical decision making and reduces the potential duplication of medical orders. Going digital also enables real-time data analytics that can help inform and guide continuous quality improvement in key areas of cost, readmissions, safety and length of stay.”

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