The research indicates that by 2020, over 80% of U.S. academic anesthesia departments will employ an anesthesia information management system, or AIMS . AIMS are a version of electronic health records that are specific to the field of anesthesia. AIMS have two major functions. First, AIMS automatically integrate the patient’s vital signs from the multiple monitors present throughout the surgery to a central electronic medical record (EMR) for the patient. Secondly, AIMS streamlines anesthesia electronic medical record production by pre-filling the majority of the required information for the anesthesiologist. AIMS is significant because not only does it allow for more advanced medical records, but also it serves as a center of patient safety.
Essentially, AIMS improve patient safety by prioritizing the patient at the intersection of data collection. Traditionally, operating rooms (ORs) personnel, typically anesthesia providers, would monitor patient’s vital signs manually. They would periodically record information from the monitors to ensure that the patient’s respiratory rate, blood oxygen level, and other metrics were at or near the standard. As technology advanced, monitoring systems were supplemented by the function to automatically alert OR staff when the patient’s’ vital signs were sub-normal. Yet, AIMS take this principle one stage further by integrating all vital sign data into one continuous analysis, therefore preventing unnecessary alerts and prioritizing the data most relevant to the patient’s safety . Furthermore, AIMS can also take into consideration specific factors such as drug-drug interactions, patient allergies, and drug metabolization threshold levels — all of which greatly affect the patient in the OR.
From the provider perspective, AIMS is important for patient safety because it decreases the margin of human error inherent in patient records. In the historical anesthesia and operating room episode, the surgeon and anesthesiologist submitted post-operative reports soon after leaving the OR. These reports were required to be highly detail-oriented, for example, listing medications and amounts and when they were administered during the operation. With respect to the anesthesiologist’s hectic schedule, producing an accurate anesthesia represented a significant time burden. Lack of time, along with fatigue, could potentially lead to the provider omitting information relevant to the patient — such as clinical details that could explain unfavorable outcomes or be useful for determining the cause of a complication . By addressing human error which potentially impacts patient safety, AIMS automatically track all clinical information concerning anesthesia during the OR episode and combines it into an organized, detail-oriented report. In this way, the anesthesia records reflect an objective, measured and accurate analysis of the anesthesia care delivered in the OR.
Throughout the next decades, EMRs will continue to advance to meet the needs of a developing healthcare system. AIMS are central to such advancements. As highly sophisticated tools for tracking anesthesia care, AIMS are critical to underscoring patient safety by promoting data collection, drug/dose management, and patient vital signs. By employing data management, AIMS can allow anesthesiologists and anesthesia providers to focus on their professional duty of delivering care to the patient, first and foremost. Moreover, AIMS, as a potential innovation to the anesthesia professional experience, will prove to be valuable as an effective tool for prioritizing patient safety across the care continuum.
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