I have to say the 1100 page Enquiry into Acute Care at NSW Health makes riveting reading.
The report can be browsed in exquisite detail having been downloaded from here:
While not able to read the whole document as yet I have browsed the sections on IT and Communications from the main report.
There are a good forty pages of reading to be had here –as well as some coverage elsewhere and 250+ citations:
Section 14 -Clinical records & information technology
Importance of clinical records
Patient’s medical history
Observations of the patient
Record of treatment
Requirements for clinical notes
Failings of current clinical notes
Clinical notes presently in use
Lack of searchability
Missing time, date and author details
Inability to check entries
Inability to prompt action
Limited ability to share records with other health professionals
Storage and retrieval burden
Inability to collect data
A defective system
Interstate and overseas experience in health information technology
Training of health professionals
Further training required
Information technology currently in NSW hospitals
Existing examples of electronic medical record in NSW
New electronic medical record being introduced by NSW Health
A variety of systems
Lack of support staff
Onerous password procedures
No off-site access
No access by other health providers
Limited rural access
The way forward
Electronic medical record
Electronic prescription systems
Funding of health information technology
Secure Broadband Network
Implementation of electronic medical record
Experience in implementing FirstNet
Lessons to be learned
Electronic Health Record
What is concluded is summarised in the Executive Summary and in the following press reports.
Karen Dearne | November 27, 2008
SPECIAL commissioner Peter Garling has prescribed a massive dose of IT to fix NSW's troubled public hospitals, and recommended a watchdog oversee e-health.
He has demanded the provision of critical infrastructure, hospital and community information systems and a statewide e-health record system within four years - not the present eight to 15 year timeframe for completion.
Mr Garling, who has spent 10 months inquiring into the state's acute care services, said he has "accepted the overwhelming evidence" new models of clinical care "can only be achieved if NSW Health adopts a whole new approach to IT".
He has proposed a future IT program including essential upgrades and new systems that will cost more than $705 million, on top of the $315.5 million currently committed to projects scheduled until July 2011.
"The risks to safety and quality of patient care occasioned by delays in the introduction of an up-to-date IT system throughout NSW Health cannot be over-emphasised," Mr Garling said. "It is not until the implementation of key projects that NSW will actually have an electronic medical record for all patients that is integrated across the system.
"In my view, insufficient funds are allocated to IT to get it up to the standard needed in an acceptable timeframe."
To achieve his goals, Mr Garling has called for an independent Bureau of Health Information -- separate from NSW Health -- to be established to access, interpret and report on all data relating to safety and quality of patient care; this information is then to be regularly re-issued to individual units.
NSW special commissioner Peter Garling has prescribed an aggressive 4 million investment strategy to cure NSW Health’s sick information technology systems, in a landmark review published late yesterday.
“Whilst much of the work undertaken in NSW public hospitals is “high tech”, its record-keeping system is a relic of the pre-computer age. - Peter Garling S.C.
“What currently exists is a largely paper-based system with significant variation from clinician to clinician, ward to ward and hospital to hospital,” Garling said in his comprehensive three-volume report on NSW’s health system released yesterday.
“Whilst much of the work undertaken in NSW public hospitals is “high tech”, its record-keeping system is a relic of the pre-computer age,” he said. NSW Health’s IT operations are in general led by departmental chief information officer Mike Rillstone, although each area health service also has its own CIO.
The commissioner has recommended a “one-off injection” of 4 million to remedy a system that had been bogged down not just by paper, inconsistent documentation and illegible handwriting, but also substandard hardware, incompatible software and inadequate broadband connectivity.
“In my view, insufficient funds are allocated to information technology to get it up to the standard needed in an acceptable timeframe,” Garling said.
A lot more detail here:
Before making a few comments I must say I was amazed to note that the ever secretive HealtheLink project is due to be fully rolled out in 2016. That has to be sufficiently far off to have everyone involved to very relaxed about meeting the deadline.
What strikes me about this report is how much better it could have been had a real e-Health expert been involved. The document is really terribly context free. A special clinical advisor could also have made a vast difference.
The suggested extra spend of $700 M seems reasonable – but I doubt – with the best will in the world – and even with stunningly great project management – it can all be done in 4 years.
What seems also to be missing is a process reengineering imperative to maximise the value from the IT spend.
This could have been a much more useful enquiry – but it sure lets one be clear where the issues are!