Wednesday, 07 November 2018 21:36

First Australian hospitals achieve highest global digital health standards


Two Australian hospitals have been officially recognised as the first hospitals to adopt the highest international standards of digital health at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society AsiaPac18 Conference and Exhibition.

St Stephen’s Hospital Hervey Bay (UnitingCare) and the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne are being accredited as Stage 7 – the most advanced stage of the HIMSS Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model.

St Stephen’s Hospital Hervey Bay has achieved EMRAM Stage 7 for its inpatient facilities and Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital has achieved Outpatient EMRAM Stage 7 for its outpatient clinics.

According to John Daniels, global vice-president of HIMSS Analytics, the awards represent the first time that any hospital in Australia has reached this advanced stage of digital healthcare and could lead to significant improvements in patient care.

“Technology is a tool that, when put in the right hands, can change lives. Australia is beginning to realise a future where integrated, more personalised care is a reality,” Daniels said.

“Historically, Australian doctors and nurses faced vast challenges from systems that didn’t communicate with each other, lost records, and information accessibility. This is a major step towards overcoming these issues.

“These hospitals are showing Australia what digital transformation can achieve – and the outcomes it delivers for Australian patients - and we’re delighted to be part of their journey.”

The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne uses technology to support the treatment and care of all children, particularly those with complex and chronic disorders, requiring care by multiple specialties.

And the technology allows clinicians to have a more holistic view of the care that each patient needs and receives: any clinician can receive a real-time, single view of the entire patient journey and the interplay between disciplines.

Prior to the introduction of the EMR, clinicians needed to hand write patient information, which had a number of challenges, particular with timeliness, communication across clinical disciplines, and when patients had multiple and simultaneous clinical needs.

But with the new electronic medical record system, it is much easier to see every single aspect of a patient’s care, from hospital operations, to outpatient services, and allowing staff to provide safer care and improve outcomes.

Along with improved clinical outcomes through a more co-ordinated delivery of clinical record keeping, the RCH has also opened this transparency up to patients and families. A new patient portal has strengthened the partnership between clinicians and patients’ families, enhancing the hospital’s ability to deliver patient and family centred care.

“We have invested significantly in upgrading our healthcare technology to improve outcomes for patients and their families, and we are seeing the benefits through clinical outcomes, hospital efficiencies and enhancing the transparent healthcare partnership between clinician, hospital, patient and family,” said Jane Miller, RCH chief operating officer.

In Queensland, the state’s first digitalised hospital, St Stephen’s in Hervey Bay, has improved efficiencies and patient safety through the utilisation of electronic barcode scanning of blood and medication products. The new system also provides access to online data to monitor and improve care and share data with other health care providers caring for the hospital’s patients.

“Achieving the HIMMS Stage 7 accreditation has been a significant journey. Not only did we demonstrate how we were utilising the technology within our hospital, we were also assessed on our consistency of use, which showed a real behaviour shift by our team," said Darren Rogers, general manager St Stephen’s Hospital.

“For St Stephen’s, the rewards of following the EMRAM process has extended past the utilisation of technology; it has strengthened our ongoing commitment to providing innovative health solutions for the safety and care of our patient.” 

HIMSS Analytics developed the EMR Adoption Model in 2005 as a methodology for evaluating the progress and impact of electronic medical record systems for hospitals in the HIMSS Analytics Database, and the O-EMRAM was developed in 2012 as a methodology for evaluating the progress and impact of EMR systems at outpatient facilities.

HIMSS says these models consist of eight stages (0-7) that measure a hospital's implementation and utilisation of information technology applications, and the final stage, Stage 7, represents an advanced patient record environment.

The validation process to confirm a hospital has reached Stage 7 includes a site visit by an executive from HIMSS Analytics and former or current chief information officers to ensure an unbiased evaluation of the Stage 7 environments.

“Around the world, adopting electronic medical records has been shown to help healthcare organisations to save lives by using data and analytics to improve high-quality care, safety, and efficiency,” Daniels said.

“Stage 7 is really the tipping point that allows hospitals and patients to see the true benefits of EMRs. The real goal across Australia is for all organisations to reach this stage and achieve better health through information and technology.

“HIMSS will continue to work with State and National Governments to provide clear direction and help Australian healthcare organisations reach this level nationally.”


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).



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