IT specialist development Chris Flaherty and emergency department director Dr Tom Morton.

Hospital’s electronic ‘white board’ a NZ first

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An electronic “white board” has been designed for Nelson Hospital’s emergency department, the first of its kind in the country.

Traditional white boards were once the centre piece of the emergency department but the new computer programme – called “ED at a Glance” – allows staff to see lists of patients, their symptoms and other relevant information on all ED computers as well as a large screen.

Nelson Hospital emergency department clinical director Tom Morton says the new system means better efficiency for his staff. “Time is essential in ED, we need to know who is coming through, who’s looking after them, what’s happening to them, any test results, and where they are in their patient journey.

“Previously this information was in patient files, written on the physical white board or ED staff had to log in to different systems to find out. ED staff can now see when radiology and laboratory results come through without having to keep checking in.”

The new system is a truly Nelson innovation. After looking and being unable to find a system that would bring all the data into one place, Dr Morton met with Nelson Marlborough District Health Board IT specialists, Chris Flaherty and Darren Markham, to develop the home-grown ED at a Glance system.

Dr Morton says because a huge amount of real time information was needed to be visible to ED doctors, the system was very complex to develop.

The improved information programme links in with the clinical records system, giving instant access to patient notes.

The success of the system has now attracted attention from a number of other DHBs and other health sector agencies throughout the country.

“Having all this patient information at our fingertips means that care plans can begin promptly and some innovative e-features allow bed coordinators and ward staff to see what’s heading their way in a much more timely manner.”

He says patient safety is also enhanced because the programme gives senior doctors a holistic overview of the department. It also lends itself as a research tool as the reports it is able to generate are far superior to previous data they could obtain. “Now we can capture this information at the point of care as well as the injury diagnosis, something that no other ED electronic system in New Zealand can do.”

All ED note-keeping is also 100 per cent electronic since the system was implemented.