Otago to do full e-script rollout

An electronic prescription system successfully implemented in one Dunedin Hospital ward is to be rolled out to the whole organisation.

The trial, which involved the ward going live with e-prescription software from Australian vendor Hatrix in August, has been hailed by Otago district health board IS project leader John Lucas as a resounding success.

“We’ve had one staff member use it in another ward where she’s not meant to — people want it.”

The full rollout is scheduled to take place following a review of the ward implementation this week and Lucas says it should be possible to extend Hatrix to the rest of the hospital in less than a year.

“We rolled out our i-health clinical view system to the whole organisation in less than a year.”

Lucas was describing the trial to at the Health Informatics New Zealand conference in Auckland last week.

An advantage of Hatrix, which sits on top of the i-health system, is that it can be accessed without users having to authenticate themselves twice. Hatrix’s benefits over handwritten prescriptions include avoiding errors due to doctors’ notoriously bad handwriting and drug administration errors by nurses and other hands-on staff, Lucas says.

The system links in with the hospital’s database of drugs, meaning drugs not on the database can be prescribed for the patient when they’re discharged. It also supports drug interaction, noting when a patient is allergic to certain medicines. That part of it can be used as a standalone application by the rest of Dunedin hospital.

All clinical staff working on the ward where Hatrix is used have access. House surgeons make use of it during their patient rounds by way of Wi-Fi-enabled laptops attached to a trolley. That may seem a cumbersome hardware choice when PDAs and tablet PCs are readily available, but Lucas says the doctors prefer the trolley. “We looked at a couple of tablets and thought they would be easy to use, but the doctors found they were too heavy, they got too hot and ‘what if I dropped it?’.”

As with any new software, there were a few teething troubles. Not all medicines in the hospital’s drug dispensary were initially included, but that proved too limiting. Early attempts to include medical liquids as well as drugs were discontinued after the move proved too ambitious.

House surgeons, the first users of the system, offered feedback. It was rewritten by Hatrix, resulting in version 2.3.51.

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