Anesthesia is given to patients to inhibit pain, sedate the body and also regulate various bodily functions in surgery. Today, there are 51 million hospital surgical procedures performed annually in the United States, most which would not have been possible without anesthesia. Before the discovery of anesthesia and the first painless surgery in 1842, surgical patients had their pain dulled with opium, nitrous oxide, or copious amounts of alcohol. With the advent of many new medications and surgical monitoring equipment, we are now in the modern era of anesthesia and optimal surgical care.
In the hospital surgical suite, there is tremendous activity among the medical personnel in attendance, so it’s critical that the anesthesiologist appropriately document all of the patient’s known medical conditions, the surgical procedure being performed, and the anesthesia workflows, which include anesthetic agents, fluids, and specific therapies that are administered at specific times during the surgery.
In the past, monitoring patients during surgery was relatively simple: a finger on the pulse and a blood pressure cuff. However, advances in anesthesia have significantly increased the amount of information acquired during surgery. Understandably, the anesthetic record is now one of the most detailed physiological and pharmacological accounts in medicine.
In order to meet the demands of modern surgery and improve the standard of care, a new anesthesia management system that combines the latest in computer technology and microelectronics is now available.
This innovative system electronically documents the care provided by an anesthesiologist, from pre-op to intra-op and recovery, producing a complete anesthesia record of events, drugs, and procedures. It’s this real-time patient data that elevates the quality of clinical decision-making, patient surveillance, and physician oversight.
Designed by anesthesiologists for anesthesiologists, this electronic anesthesia record enables anesthesia best practices to be followed, and helps to reduce the risk of medication errors. The ability of this anesthesia information management system to collect data automatically enables anesthesiologists to reliably create an accurate record at all times, regardless of other demands during surgery. In addition, it also builds a compliant, billable electronic anesthesia record while also supporting the clinical team managing the needs of the patient, no matter if that patient is a centenarian with multiple health issues or an infant who is eight weeks premature and struggling to thrive.
The first piece of the new technology, Anesthesia Automated Record Keeping System, or ARKS, is an anesthesia information management and documentation system that gathers and records physiological patient data, including heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate in real-time during an operation and displays it on one screen.
The other piece, the Decision Support System, or DSS, provides advanced clinical guidance during general anesthesia procedures. Inspired by the computers and integrated alert systems found in jet airplanes, DSS allows doctors to document everything that they’re doing, and reminds them of the workflows that are important for a targeted outcome
DSS also uses the information collected by ARKS and alerts clinicians when those physiological metrics indicate the patient is headed toward a path outside of the targeted clinical outcome and needs even closer monitoring..
Having ready access to physiologic trends is essential, because it allows anesthesiologists to make proper diagnoses and treatment decisions during surgery. Some complex surgeries last as long as eight hours and clinicians need to be replaced. With this anesthesia management technology system running, however, everything during the surgery has been documented, providing the next clinician with all the critical information needed to allow for continuity of care
Where Are They Now
Studies analyzing this system’s effects on patient outcomes found that use of this tool lead to an increase in the physician’s adherence to guidelines and a reduction of the number of incorrect decisions made that would lead to unnecessary costs, making it a valuable tool for anesthesiologists overlooking multiple patients. Decision support systems are gaining popularity as technology quality improves, and the market is expected to grow through 2020.