St Stephen's Hervey Bay to trial paperless prescribing

The federal government has given special authorisation to St Stephen's Private Hospital in Queensland's Hervey Bay to trial paperless medications prescribing, dispensing and claiming as a forerunner to the introduction of a national hospital electronic medication chart this financial year.

The special authorisation under section 100 of the National Health Act 1953 – which regulates the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and requires a paper medications order to accompany a PBS claim – will mean St Stephen's clinicians can prescribe, dispense, administer and send a claim to Medicare entirely electronically.

St Stephen's Private, which officially opened today and is thought to be the first fully integrated digital hospital in Australia, is using a closed-loop medications management system from Cerner.

The hospital is the first in Australia to have been accredited with Stage 6 certification from HIMSS, an international measure of a hospital’s digitisation and integration.

Its systems also include Cerner's electronic medical record, inpatient pharmacy, surgery and anaesthetics, critical care, clinical documentation, pathology specimen management, barcode scanning and real-time location systems for patients and equipment.

The closed-loop medications system involves electronic orders at the bedside which are transmitted to the integrated pharmacy system, where they are double-checked and the medications dispensed in single-dose blister packs.

These are barcoded and sent to electronic drug cabinets on the wards, where nurses scan the barcode on the pack as well as the patient when administering the drug. This is all recorded in the EMR.

In this trial, a claim for payment will then be sent electronically to Medicare without having to also send paper copies of the medication order.

According to the special authorisation, all stages of the closed-loop process are captured within the electronic medication management system, which records the identity of each user during each transaction. The Cerner system also incorporates an advanced IT security framework with robust PBS audit functions.

The trial is being used to inform the development of the PBS hospital medication chart, which the Department of Health is funding through the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC).

The chart will be a national standard chart for use in both inpatient and outpatient settings and will allow for prescribing, dispensing and claiming from the chart. It will also include non-PBS medicines.

It follows work on the national residential medication chart, used in residential aged care, which includes non-PBS fields.

At the official opening today, Health Minister Peter Dutton said DoH would work with St Stephen’s to monitor the effectiveness of the electronic system and pick up on the benefits to inform future changes.

The $96 million, 96-bed hospital, operated by UnitingCare Health (UCH), has been funded in part through a $25.9 million grant from the federal government for its construction as well as $21.2 million entirely for ICT and eHealth from the Commonwealth Health and Hospital Fund.

Mr Dutton said St Stephen’s would showcase the future of healthcare.

“St Stephen’s has raised the bar for all healthcare providers by embracing the technology literally before the foundations were laid,” Mr Dutton said.

“It will be a showcase for the improvements that eHealth information technology can make for healthcare and patient outcomes.

“Digital technology can make health care far more efficient and more effective for patients and providers.”

“We will use the lessons learned from St Stephen’s paperless prescribing, dispensing and claiming trial to refine the hospital electronic medication chart, which will soon be in widespread use in Australian hospitals.”

The hospital’s digital features also include patient, community and medical web portals, and information linkages with Hervey Bay Public Hospital, medical practitioners, other UnitingCare Health hospitals, universities and diagnostic providers.

Mr Dutton said electronic medication charts will start to be introduced in private and public hospitals this financial year.

Posted in Australian eHealth

Comments   

# Tony Firth 2014-12-09 09:37
Paperless electronic inpatient PBS prescribing is not new. Two hospitals in Melbourne are currently doing this; one for almost a decade. And both with the approval of Medicare Australia.

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