Mayo Clinic doc’s real-time dashboard makes ER patient tracking easier

Waiting in the emergency room is not limited to patients.

Doctors and other ER staff are constantly waiting too — waiting to see if the X-Ray report is available, waiting to see whether lab results are back and waiting to see whether medication that was ordered was given to the patient.

And the only way to know whether any of this information is available is to go into each patient’s medical record individually and do a check. Repeat the same process for every patient that’s in the ER.


But Dr. Vernon Smith at the Mayo Clinic has come up with a real-time dashboard that is meant to take away all this repeated checking. It incorporates easy-to-understand icons — X for an X-ray, a drop of blood to represent lab results and mortar and pestle for medications —  that are displayed on large computer screens throughout the emergency department.

What’s more, the same screen has information available on all patients simultaneously. That’s a real boon to doctors and other ER care providers who are caring for multiple patients at the same time.

“What we can’t do in emergency departments is focus on one patient,” said Smith, who along with Dr. Andy Boggust developed the so-called YES Board, in a recent phone interview. “So how do you know which ones you are worried about and which ones you are not worried about. Who’s got lab results that are critical; who’s got abnormal vital signs.”

With the YES Board, the status of 75 to 80 patients is available at a glance. The patient tracking system was installed in 2007 in the emergency department of St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota, Smith said. No formal study has been designed to see how much time the system has saved in the ER, but he believes that it cuts patient stays by 30 minutes to an hour.

Although the YES Board began life in the ER, it wasn’t long before other parts of the hospital wanted dashboards of their own. Smith came up with icons for other things such as whether rooms were available or they were closed for cleaning.

Last year, a consulting firm in Chicago — West Monroe Partners — acquired an exclusive license to use the dashboard in conjunction with Microsoft Amalga, which is a health data aggregator.

The YES Board has been so successful that Smith is in Mayo Clinic’s Arizona campus to roll it out in the emergency department there. The Florida campus will follow suit.

In fact, a Mayo Clinic public affairs spokesman pointed out that, aside from ensuring that patients are cared for properly, the system has been invaluable in critical scenarios.

“On one occasion the YES board accurately detected and alerted physicians of a patient who was being discharged, who was actually experiencing a heart attack,” said Nicholas Hanson, the Mayo spokesman.

 [Photo Credit: Mayo Clinic Public Affairs]

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