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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Houston First to Install Computerized, Real-Time OR Control System

June 3, 2010

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Melissa Wingo, R.N., Operating Room Holding Area nurse (left), and Kelly Grimes, Anesthesia technician, confer about a surgical case using the recently installed, computerized, real-time operating room control system at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center. PHOTO: Bobbi Gruner

HOUSTON – The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) recently installed a computerized, operating room control system, called OR•Control, to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of day-of-surgery operations by directly coordinating and supporting surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, patients, family members, and related support personnel and activities - all in real-time.
“This control system moves our operating room from after-the-fact, manual tracking processes of the 1970s into the 21st century,” said David H. Berger, M.D., M.H.C.M., Operative Care Line executive. “When schedules change, it is difficult to immediately calculate and then convey cascading effects to everyone who needs to know. This lack of real-time communication results in frustrated staff, late schedules, and unnecessary stress for Veterans and their family members.”

Using real-time location tracking technology, such as ultrasound, the control system automatically tracks and displays the status of all personnel, activities, and equipment related to a particular surgical procedure and then, continuously updates the facility’s surgical schedule.

In addition, the system provides alerts when significant events have not occurred in a timely fashion. These alerts support surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and families in coordinating and prioritizing their activities to maintain smooth flow and on-time schedules. Information displays and alerts are available throughout the facility and remotely via e-mail, cell phones, and other Web-enabled devices.
“This system automatically triggers jeopardy alerts so we can address problems such as room cleanings, missing lab results, or pre-consults before a schedule change is required,” said Melissa Wingo, R.N., Operating Room Holding Area nurse. “This system works just like FedEx; we know where things are at all times. It’s a big stress reliever and allows us to concentrate more on the patient.”
When delays do occur, the system automatically adjusts the scheduled start time of the effected procedure, as well as calculates the ripple effect of these changes on the rest of the day's schedule. The impact on staff and anesthesia assignments, future procedure times, and use of equipment are all determined automatically. Those changes are immediately displayed for everyone to see. Ultimately, the system enables the facility to increase throughput and provide every Veteran with the medical care they need faster.

 “As health care providers, we need the right tools to help us provide the most accurate information possible immediately to physicians, nurses, and all staff across departments,” said J. Kalavar, M.D., MEDVAMC chief of staff. “At the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, we pride ourselves on increasing the accuracy and efficiency of health care operations and asset utilization, but most importantly, the quality of patient care that we provide to our Veterans.”

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