Mater Health Services has always been a major healthcare provider and leader in its industry in Queensland. Constantly seeking ways to improve patient care and hospital workflow, Mater Health Services asked Infinity to help solve the problems associated with the ever-increasing demands of patient records management.
Access to a patient’s health record is critical to the delivery of care in a medical environment. If a recently discharged patient re-presents and requires urgent care, historically, the record may have been hidden amongst a sea of unsorted records held in trolleys or piled high on sorting tables, making it difficult to locate quickly. Any delay in retrieval and provision of the record could be life threatening and inadequate systems inhibiting the efficient and timely sorting and processing of these health records also causes stress and friction between clinical and administration teams.
Especially in a medical setting, intelligent design is serious business. Mater Health Services needed Infinity to design a records management system to effectively sort, categorise and distribute large volumes of documents fast.
The design of the Health Management System was developed by task analysis of the existing file management procedures and by gathering insights to guide the design of a new system of workflow.
Initially, the records table itself was perceived as the central problem requiring redesign. After Infinity examined the existing system and observed the user workflow experience, it became evident that a bigger issue needed to be addressed and resolved. Our designers needed to reconsider the entire system and user experience, which would not just improve inter-departmental communication but also data processing to boost patient care.
A process was needed which would actively promote a streamlined flow and sequence of patient records handling. Systematic and logical paths for large volumes of incoming documents were emphasised. Apart from providing an intuitive structure of records management, careful consideration was also given towards aspects of industrial design and physical usability. Designed as a symmetrical work-flow system, users are encouraged to alternate between the mirrored stations to reduce physical stress commonly associated with repetitive tasks.
Collaborating closely with Mater Health Services, Infinity designed a records management system that promotes an intuitive sequenced workflow that streamlines processing of health records to maximise efficiency. The solution, the Health Records Management System, is a well-balanced integration of system, user-experience, and product design.
The System starts with the unitisation of the records from the collection trolleys into manageable sized tubs that are easy to lift and move and comply with OH&S requirements in the hospital. With an initial dumping table for these tubs and an overflow shelf, patient records are able to be quickly collected and organised at a central location, and trolleys are free to be reused to collect more records from throughout the hospital.
The Health Records tubs are placed on angled stainless steel pans so the records naturally tilt towards the user, with labels at the top for urgent identification and retrieval of a record if required. Records are removed one at a time for a series of maintenance checks, labelling and coding. Then the records are pre-sorted into more tubs that determine their journey either back to file, finance or other parts of the hospital. These sorted records are passed to the next stage of the station for data entry or scanning before repacking to trolleys for delivery to final destinations.
The system allows for up to four people to work simultaneously at the sorting station to cope with peak demand. Ergonomic factors have been considered to prevent over-reaching and moving of heavy loads in awkward positions. The work-stations can be moved independently along rails to reach the middle of the table, and with adjustable monitor and keyboard positions, can be operated in a seated or standing position. As the system is designed as a symmetrical work-flow system, users are encouraged to alternate between the mirrored stations to reduce physical stress commonly associated with repetitive tasks.
This careful attention to detail has resulted in improvements for even the smallest features, from ribbed rubber anti-slip pads on the inside of the tubs, to metal rungs for dispensing adhesive labels. This results in a more efficient system, better delivery of patient care and less operational stress within the hospital.