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Getting up from under paper

Instant access to patient information is just one of the benefits of a new electronic patient records system implemented by the Auckland District Health Board, according to officials there. The solution also is said to improve records management efficiency and security, and eliminate the need to build costly storage space.

New Zealand’s largest public healthcare provider, the ADHB has installed Tower Technology’s Clinical Record Information System (CRIS), which is built on Tower’s document and content processing system. The solution replaces a paper-based patient record system and provides clinical staff with multisite access to more than 13 million images that comprise 500,000 individual patient folders.

According to a recent press release, CRIS will streamline the health board's record-keeping facilities by integrating documents from four major hospitals into one centralized system. It will manage 8 million new image pages generated each year and a further 4 million to 5 million pages in backfile scanning of older records.

Documents created electronically from desktop applications, from the Web, e-mail or from scanned or faxed paper documents are filed in the patient’s digital folder. Copies of electronic reports and results such as radiology and pathology are automatically downloaded and filed in patient records immediately.

Dr. Nigel Murray, general manager of New Zealand’s Health Services Delivery Plan, says that the new system encourages the sharing of paperless information by individual clinicians, the four hospitals and community centers.

“It provides ADHB staff with instant access to documents that would previously have taken some time to obtain, particularly if all or part of the patient information was at another hospital,” Murray says. “It would have meant finding paper records, then faxing or couriering the information. This inefficient practice and waste of crucial time can now be avoided.

“Electronic access of records means any number of authorized staff can see the latest patient information simultaneously, and view it after hours, either within the hospital or remotely via the Web. It also means records can’t get lost, misplaced or destroyed.”

The Auckland District Health Board has 7,500 clinical care staff members and almost 2 million patient contacts annually; it provides regional services for 30% of New Zealand’s population.

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