Twitter-Like App in the EMR Delivers Time-Sensitive Communications to Clinicians

July 15, 2020

// By Jane Weber Brubaker //

If you’ve ever used Microsoft Office, you’re familiar with the ribbon — the horizontal toolbar at the top of the document loaded with icons that make it easy for users to change things like fonts, formatting, colors, layouts, and alignment with a single click.

Now take that same concept and drop it into the electronic medical record (EMR). IllumiCare’s Smart Ribbon technology does just that. Developed in collaboration with the Texas Hospital Association (THA), Smart Ribbon “is embedded within or floats over a hospital’s EMR to give providers real-time data within the physician workflow,” according to the THA website.

G.T. LaBorde, chief executive officer, IllumiCare

G.T. LaBorde, CEO, IllumiCare

G.T. LaBorde is CEO at IllumiCare. “We think of it a lot like your mobile phone, and the EMR like your web browser on your mobile phone. Workflows are much faster and more efficient if you can develop one little app that does a specific thing,” he says. “We’ve kind of mimicked the behavior of the device that we all know how to use and have brought that sort of platform to work alongside electronic medical records.”

The benefit of having the Smart Ribbon embedded within the EMR is that it streamlines access to information that is otherwise cumbersome to extract, requiring many clicks and screens, different programs, and multiple sources of data. Smart Ribbon ameliorates some of the technology overload and layers of inefficiency that can lead to physician burnout.

While communication needs were expanding along with the exponential spread of the coronavirus, IllumiCare developed a new app for Smart Ribbon to streamline communications and give clinicians easy access to up-to-the-minute news and information within their normal EMR workflow. From concept to implementation, it took 45 days to roll out the new app, dubbed “Announcements.” It was operational by late March and is available at no cost to client organizations.

Houston Methodist is a power user of Smart Ribbon apps and is now using the Announcements app. As of this writing, COVID-19 cases in the Houston area are escalating, prompting a Harris County judge to declare a “red alert” (stay at home) warning. Houston hospitals are filling up with patients, and the need for streamlined communications to help beleaguered clinicians has perhaps never been greater.


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