Convenience or Control—Addressing the Laptop Conundrum

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Charlie Batutis By Charlie Batutis 
Technology/Connectivity Product Manager, McKesson
A nurse performing healthcare IT updates to a laptop.

There are pros and cons to just about every decision in life, and running IT for a field-based nursing team is no different. For example, is it better to bring every laptop into the office for a major healthcare IT upgrade, or do you go with the convenience of a remote software download?

Bryan Crockett, a member of McKesson’s Technical Resource Support Team, notes advantages and disadvantages to both methods. Bringing laptops in for upgrades provides IT with a control point, allowing staffers to make sure each machine is 100% healthy and has no problem files (i.e., nothing that’s not supposed to be there). Of course, some nurses must travel a significant distance to reach the office.

Remote upgrades are obviously more convenient for nurses, and they can be set up to include third-party updates (such as anti-virus signatures and Java) in addition to McKesson home health software. However, not all installs can be delivered remotely.

Asked about his organization’s model for upgrades, Christiana Care Health System’s Vince Nobile says they brought laptops in for a recent large upgrade but are doing most smaller upgrades remotely. Ten nurses recently performed a test run of a major upgrade entirely remotely, and Nobile says the organization hopes to reach a point where major healthcare IT upgrades can all be done remotely.

Both Crockett and Nobile, a senior IT application analyst, say their best advice to home healthcare IT teams is to test early and often. “Testing should be done days or weeks in advance, and not just in test mode but in production mode,” says Crockett.

Crockett and Nobile also note that field staff should not attempt a large update using an air card or cellphone hotspot. However, Nobile notes that he often tests upgrades using an air card to get the maximum length of the download. “I find it cuts down on the number of help desk calls saying, ‘This upgrade is taking forever. What’s wrong?’ If I tell them it will take an hour, they’re pleasantly surprised when it only takes a half hour,” he says.

Finally, Crockett says field staff should receive training on why frequent transfers are necessary—with real-life examples. They should do at least two transfers a day, he says, but more are better. “If you make a med change for a patient and another nurse is going to visit that patient later in the day, he/she won’t know about the change unless you do a transfer mid-day,’ he says. “Quick transfers throughout the day are more efficient than less frequent, longer ones. And if you have an air card, there’s really no reason to wait until the end of the day.”

Learn how McKesson Homecare makes it easy to download home health documentation system updates at your convenience.

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