Whenever a patient record is loaded into Ocean, it is given its own Ocean reference number ("ref"). Although Ocean is constantly deleting patient data when no longer needed (i.e. after the results have been downloaded to the EMR), you may find yourself running out of "space" in Ocean since the default 3-digit number only allows 900 patients to be loaded at any one time.
Furthermore, Ocean attempts to generate a random number for each loaded patient, so as you approach 900 records, you may find that Ocean takes a bit longer to respond and occasionally gives up and returns an error. Consider this an early warning that you are running out of space.
Fortunately, you can easily change your Ocean site to use 4, 5, 6 or even 7 digit reference numbers by following the steps outlined below.
- Log in to the Ocean Portal and navigate to the Admin tab.
- Enter the "Site Features" section (from the menu on the left).
- Change the "Digits for Generated Patient Refs" setting to 4, 5, 6 or 7 digits.
- Now, next time you try to enter a ref on a tablet, it will reset the tablet to force entry of four digits.
Note: When changing your number of patient ref digits, keep in mind that the more digits you use, the more numbers your staff will need to enter into the Ocean Tablets for every patient who needs to complete an eForm.
Handling Patients with Old Refs
Once you change the number of ref digits, you may find that some patients still have old refs in their charts. To load those refs on the tablet, simply put zero(s) at the front. For example, if a patient has ref 123 already and you change to 4 digits, your tablets will accept 0123 to load the 123 patient. That being said, it would be wise to change the number of digits for your Ocean site at the end of the day or over the weekend to minimize the number of patients requiring zero padding.