By: Julie Poore and Alaina Herrington
The HomeGrown Solution that we recommend most to friends and colleagues is how to create an electronic health record using Microsoft Word. Using an electronic health record (EHR) during a simulation experience provides participants with the opportunity to access and analyze patient health information, practice complete and accurate documentation, and improve patient and provider interaction and communication. There are several training EHRs available for purchase; however, those systems are costly and may be unaffordable for small universities and health systems.
Christine Thomas’ solution includes step-by-step instructions for creating the electronic record as well as a medication dispensing cart. One of the reasons we are so fond of Christine’s solution is the level of detail she provides. In addition to a supply list and written instructions, Christine provides photos (on the above website) and a detailed video that allows users to easily replicate her idea. One of the amazing features within this low-cost solution is its ability to link laboratory reports, medication records, provider orders, consult reports, and diagnostic testing reports to a patient chart with the simple click of the mouse.
We must acknowledge that when we first looked at this solution for creating an EHR, we were intimidated, concerned that we might not have the technological skills to replicate it without significant IT assistance. We must have visited the HomeGrown Solutions site two or three times before we gave it a try. We soon found that everyone, even those without IT experience, should be able to implement Christine’s solution as long as they are familiar with Microsoft Word. The numbers of implementation hours you spend will vary based on your technology skills. In addition, the time you spend creating the record can be extensive if you have to create original chart data. If you use a preexisting chart, importing the data usually only takes about two hours per scenario.
We thank Christine and her co-creator Megan Mraz for taking the time to provide detailed notes and visuals. The EHR created using Microsoft Word is truly an excellent solution to a common dilemma facing many simulation centers. As co-chair and chair, respectively, of the HomeGrown Solutions Committee, we encourage all simulation educators working on a tight budget to give this solution a try.