SA health gets Web-based patient records

Central records should avoid misdiagnosis

The state government of South Australia will spend $17 million on a Web-based information system allowing nurses and midwives instant access to patient records.

Technology developed by Sydney-based Emerging Systems will be used to integrate patient records across the public hospital system to improve the speed, accuracy, and hence safety of health-care delivery.

The project will add another level to the SA's electronic health records system, careconnect.sa, which aims to link all clinicians and patient information over the next ten years.

Emerging Systems was chosen for the project after its success in developing a Web-enabled clinical information system for medical and nursing staff at St Vincent's Private Hospital in Sydney.

SA Health Department CIO David Johnston said linking nurses and midwives through a patient health record system will allow faster access to patient information and lead to more responsive and informed treatment.

"All major public hospitals will be linked which will help improve areas such as patient care planning, care quality management, [and] workforce utilization of our nurses and midwives," Johnston said.

The Emerging Health Solutions system will be introduced at Lyell McEwen Hospital in Adelaide first and progressively rolled out to 17 public hospitals across the state by the end of 2009.

This project is similar to other e-health information initiatives in NSW and Tasmania.

Emerging Systems CEO Russel Duncan said another important feature is simplicity of use.

"Nurses can learn the essentials in 15 minutes and will be fully proficient after just four hours," he said. "Because all the information is at their fingertips, they'll have more time to spend on patient care and less on chasing paperwork."

An electronic records system should also alleviate the burden hospitals have with storing physical records.

The existing system in SA is specific to each hospital and does not allow information sharing across health sites.

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