County Nurses Use Wireless System To Improve Efficiency
San Diego County supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved expanding to all six regional public health centers a pilot program that provides public health nurses with handheld computers to help increase productivity, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
During the 10-month pilot at the county's public health center in Escondido, nurses saw an average of 122 patients per month -- 25% more than before the study. The computerized referral system reduced the response time by as much as 75% and appointment wait time from an average of two months to an average of two weeks.
The system and hiring and training consultants to evaluate the results cost $844,000, but the county expects the system to save money in the long term (Wolf Branscomb, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/26). The county would have to hire an additional 24 nurses at a cost of about $2 million annually to handle the same workload as the new system, the North County Times reports.
Nick Maccione, deputy director of health services and the program's manager, said the goal of the program is to increase productivity and improve county services, not to reduce the number of county staff members. The program will be implemented countywide by Sept. 1, according to Maccione (Conaughton, North County Times, 4/26).