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South Australia to Adopt Electronic Healthcare Records

by Jeanne-Vida Douglas •
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The South Australian government will spend $17 million implementing an integrated electronic patient record system which has been operating successfully for the last two years in St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney.

The legacy technology was initially developed more than 15 years ago by a doctor working within the hospital. In 2002 the intellectual property was transferred to local developers Emerging Systems in an agreement which would see them rewrite the software for St Vincent’s Hospital, and then make it commercially available to other healthcare providers.

“To deliver the technology via the web it needed to be totally rewritten in Java,” said Emerging Systems director Richard Hutchinson. “The most important thing on the development agenda was to get something up and running that enables clinicians to work the way they wanted to work, the whole process was completed very much hand in hand with hospital clinicians and health care providers.”

According to Hutchinson, although the software was developed in close collaboration with the staff at St Vincent’s, it is also flexible enough to take into account different work practises, and can be configured to fit into different clinical environments.

The initial phase of the South Australian roll out will involve a three-month implementation planning study, to identify which features will be used by the hospital, and how they will be delivered. This will be followed by a three-month implementation, training and rollout phase, which will see staff at the Lyell McEwin Hospital in northern Adelaide using the web-based electronic patient records by the end of 2008.

The software will then be extended to another 17 hospitals throughout 2009.

The $17 million budget is expected to cover all aspects of the implementation, including any new hardware requirements, staff training and software integration.

Although South Australia already uses an electronic patient record system, according to David Johnston, chief information officer with the SA Health Department, the data is currently stored within each hospital and can’t be easily shared between healthcare providers.

“Linking nurses and midwives through a patient health record system will allow faster access to patient information, which will lead to more responsive and informed treatment,” Johnston, offered in a release to the media. “All major public hospitals will be linked which will help improve areas such as patient care planning, care quality management and patient acuity, as well as workforce utilisation of our nurses and midwives.”

The rollout of electronic patient record is just one of a number of streamlining projects on Johnson’s to do list, which includes an automated system for the ordering, management and dispensing of pharmaceuticals, as well as materials management and financial systems.

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  • SA
  • Health
  • David Johnston
  • Electronic Healthcare Records
  • Richard Hutchinson
  • South Australian Government