Daylight Savings Time change this year may cause healthcare transaction hiccups

This article was initially posted at HISTalk. However, the issue is important and I’ve received good feedback on the readiness of medical devices from Tim Gee of Medical Connectivity and I wanted to share his thoughts here as well.

As we all probably know by now, this year Daylight Savings Time (DST) starts on March 11 instead of in April. Daylight-saving time has usually started on first Sunday of April and reverted to standard time on the last Sunday in October. However, due to the US Energy Policy Act of 2005, the daylight-saving schedule will be extended by a month, with the period beginning on the second Sunday in March and ending on the first Sunday in November. At first glance this is not a big deal, clocks will just move ahead by an hour three weeks earlier; however, given that most modern healthcare environments are networked and networked systems need to synchronize using price time servers we may be in for some headaches.

Some people compare this to “Y2K” upgrades but let’s not kid ourselves, it’s nowhere as big or as time-consuming as Y2K. That’s just FUD that consultants want to promote to get more work.

However, here are just some symptoms we will see if we’re not up to speed with the DST changes:

  • Missed meetings and appointments

    • Hospital orders not being picked up in time

      • Operating room scheduling issues

        • Billing and contract deadline issues

          • Record compliance and management problems due to time-correlation mismatch

            • Transportation of biologics blood bags, tissue, etc

              • Expiration of biologics and supplies

                • Transportation of supplies and short-lived medications

                  • Security-related issues where log files need to be correlated

                    • “Smart” medical devices which work on time-based controls (pumps, vital signs, etc)

                      • I’m sure there are dozens of other symptoms that the esteemed audience of this blog will be able add (put them in comments so we can all keep an eye out for them).
                      Tim Gee added this specifically about medical devices:

                    Many medical devices create data that includes the date and time – diagnostic imaging modalities, 12-lead ECG carts, continuous patient monitors, just to name a few. About any device that prints a strip chart, creates an image or report will include the date and time that the data was generated. Data from devices must have the proper date and time so that patient data can be represented accurately. Data tagged with the wrong date and time could result in critical data being missed or misinterpreted, resulting in an adverse patient event.

                    What do you do today?

                    1. Make sure everybody knows the change and is looking out for issues.

Author

Shahid N. Shah

Shahid Shah is an internationally recognized enterprise software guru that specializes in digital health with an emphasis on e-health, EHR/EMR, big data, iOT, data interoperability, med device connectivity, and bioinformatics.