Bedside Consents in the Real World — Part 1


The emergency department at Halifax Hospital should be noisy and chaotic, at least if the numbers are anything to go by: 116,000 registrations a year, 99,000 square feet (making it the largest ED in Florida) and 107 rooms. But as you walk through the double doors that lead into the ED, the silence is startling, the sense of order striking. One of the reasons is the thoughtful way the busy department is designed, with no detail overlooked.

Instead of being behind closed doors, physicians update patient charts in a glass-walled room in the center of the department that gives them 360-degree visibility. Rather than wondering if a physician is still on duty and paging them to deal with an urgent patient need, nurses can simply cast a quick glance. To facilitate more direct and specialized care, the department is divided into eight clinically designated pods, each with 12 rooms. There are also three trauma suites that offer round-the-clock care.

Another way that Halifax keeps its ED running smoothly is by removing paper. At some hospitals, there are stacks of paper piled on every available surface, and carts crammed with forms. Not so here. Instead of slowly working their way through consents and pages of other registration paperwork, each patient simply signs e-forms without paper and ink on one of 107 mobile workstations on wheels (WOWs), using Access e-signatures on Wacom tablets.

“The less paper there is, the more quickly and effectively we can serve our patients,” said Halifax CIO Tom Stafford. “Access e-signatures helped us go paperless with our bedside consents, which has a direct impact on patient care.”

Once the e-forms are complete, they are sent directly and automatically into MEDITECH’s 6.x EHR, without any scanning or manual indexing, using what Stafford calls “hassle-free integration.” This makes each patient’s information readily available to clinicians in the ED and across the hospital. A state-of-the art-ED needed a similarly advanced e-signature solution, and that’s exactly what Halifax found with Access.

Tom Stafford (right), Halifax Health CIO, discusses the hospital's transformation from paper-based to
paper-free processes during a site visit at MUSE16. Stafford was joined by Access Director of Strategic
Initiatives Cody Strate who worked with Halifax to simplify their forms and signatures approach.


Check back for my next post, Bedside Consent Forms in the Real World — Part II, to read CIO Tom Stafford’s views on how Access technology aligns with the four main goals of Halifax’s IT department.


About The Author - Phil White

When he’s not interviewing CIOs or researching the latest developments in healthcare IT, Phil enjoys writing, reading, standup paddleboarding and trying to convince his knees that they can still play pickup basketball.

Feel free to email me here.