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The Heart of BIDMC

Web Applications Developer Kevin Afonso


Kevin Afonso

When a loved one is being rushed into the operating room, the last thing on anyone's mind is computer code. But when the OR nurse pulls up a patient's medical history and sees he's allergic to a certain medication, it's technology that provides that crucial information quickly and accurately. And it's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) Lead Clinical Applications Director Kevin Afonso who creates the program that makes that possible.

"The foundation of everything we do is making people's jobs easier and making the patient experience safer," says Afonso. "When I read or hear of a positive story of a patient stay, it feels good to know I was a small part of that."

Kevin is the technical whiz behind the many different computer applications being used at BIDMC to store medical records, organize operating room schedules, and track lab tests and drug orders.

"We have a huge amount of data. Our database goes back to the 1970s. Admission records, lab work, pharmacy records - every clinical record you can imagine," recalls Afonso.

When developing new applications, Kevin collaborates closely with doctors and nurses to understand how they work and how his programs can help them do their jobs better.

"It's important for us to understand their workflow so we can develop programs that make their jobs easier and assist in making patients safer," notes Afonso.

For example, the staff in the operating room was having issues with room utilization - ensuring they have a constant flow of cases in each room without significant gaps between cases and the proper staff and equipment necessary for each case. The medical team wanted to be able to track patients from the moment they arrive until they leave surgery and document every detail of each case. Kevin used the white dry-erase board used outside the OR as the basis for his computer application.

"They spent quite a bit of time writing, erasing and re-writing as they moved cases and staff around during the day," he says. "So we set about building a program that has interactive features to document what's happening inside each room as it happens using a color-coded dashboard with pop-up boxes. Now everyone can see what stage each case is at in real time from any workstation anywhere in the hospital."

Hospital staffers truly appreciate Kevin's technical expertise and team approach.

"Having Kevin is much better than having a 'canned' computer program," says Deborah Heck Tassone, a clinical nurse in BIDMCs Perioperative Services department. "He can customize applications to our needs and is incredibly accommodating. He always tries to make it happen and that's a huge benefit to the staff and our patients."

Kevin's next project is to develop a program that will show real time data of everything that's happening in the OR.

"It will be like a huge dashboard that will display on large screens in the physicians' lounge and OR desk. There's also talk of creating a similar system for the patient waiting area so if you have a loved one going into surgery it will tell you when your loved one is in surgery and when they move into recovery," says Afonso.

Kevin says he enjoys the challenge of improving the workflow and systems in the hospital from behind the scenes.

"I like to stay under the radar, " Afonso admits. "But it's nice knowing I'm lending a hand in helping with patient safety and creating an atmosphere where patients can have a better and safer stay at the hospital."

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted November 2010