Area health office gets clinical about records

A Sydney-based health provider has jumped the gun on the Government's national health information network concept - HealthConnect - and is deploying a Web-based clinical information system.

Aiming to eradicate duplicate patient records, the Wentworth Area Health Services (WAHS) has taken the contentious issue of e-health integration to task.

Jeff Crompton, clinical informatics coordinator for WAHS, said legacy systems and duplication of patient records was a big issue within hospitals, often leading to "re-bleeding" and "re-x-raying".

The problem of a duplication of patient records is now being addressed by the implementation of SeeBeyond's e*Gate Integrator as a foundation and an i-Health architecture layer on top. It is due to go live by the end of June 2002.

As a result of the implementation, all patients will have unique identifiers and business processes are in place to identify all duplicates.

"We have 40 to 60 potential duplications a day. With this system in place, it will be able to pick up the date of birth and join records together (for example if a name has been spelt incorrectly in different locales).

"Normally a doctor would have to find the records from each location where a patient has been treated to see the full picture. [And] if a doctor wanted to see results for a radiology test he would have to log into this system and then log out and then into the pathology system to see results there."

As with most hospitals, Crompton said, there are many applications on different systems that are not integrated, requiring logging in and out.

WAHS is one of the six major health providers in Sydney which manage the health needs of people living in the Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury and Penrith Local Government areas.

Crompton said that about 12 months ago the database integration problem was overcome by the implementation of a SeeBeyond eBusiness Application Integration (eAI) solution, which established an integration layer for the three patient administration systems (PAS) - patient management, pathology and laboratory. All systems now operate on a common interface and the solution also solved the logging in problem.

"Hospitals traditionally still operate on legacy systems, all text-based VMS systems. Due to all the logging in and out, the username and password for each [PAS] system was sticky tapped onto the machine."

Crompton said the full cost of the move to an e-health structure, including new PCs, was about $800,000 all up. With regards to ROI, he said it was hard to calculate as the implementation was core to the business of improved patient care. w

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