Children's Hospital switches to online patient records

The Children's Hospital at Westmead in NSW has signed a $1.5 million contract that will transform the way it records and accesses patient information.

Using Tower Technology's Clinical Record Information System (CRIS), the need for paper records will be eradicated and more than 1000 clinical and non-clinical workers will have instant, 24-hour electronic access to patient records regardless of location.

The system will be fully operational in March 2003.

Using the system all new patient records from desktop applications, Web sessions, e-mail, or from scanned or faxed paper documents are filed and presented to the clinician as a digital folder. Copies of electronic reports are automatically down-loaded and filed against patient records immediately making them available as part of the integrated electronic medical record.

The system will eliminate the need for clinical staff to undergo extensive training or significantly change the way they work, officials said. Documents are captured during the patient's time at hospital and are made available for viewing from the Tower Technology central repository through a single user interface.

Dr Hanson, director of information services at The Children's Hospital at Westmead, believes the system will provide substantial gains in efficient record management and increase responsiveness to patient records access.

"More than 27,000 patients are admitted to the Children's Hospital a year and the hospital processes some 23,000 new medical records yearly (with an average of 89 pages per record) so a system that enables us to manage these records more efficiently is a welcome addition. All new documents will be scanned in and we expect this to create enormous savings in records processing and storage space in the future," Dr Hanson said.

Electronic patient files also ensure records can't get lost, misplaced or destroyed and allow files to be subject to high levels of security. While the system makes files easier and faster to access, staff will be granted different levels of security access to ensure patient confidentiality.

"We expect there to be significant productivity gains for both clinical and non-clinical staff who work with medical records. Ready access to an integrated medical record through the desktop will help to improve patient care and ensure the security of medical records," Dr Hanson said.

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