Plunket delivers baby book in the cloud through ePHR

Child health support organisation Plunket has officially gone live with its new cloud-based electronic Plunket Health Record (ePHR) application, which has been built on Microsoft technologies and will eventually be deployed on around 800 Windows tablets to clinical nurses across New Zealand.

The app will replace the paper-based processes familiar to generations of New Zealand families. Nine out of every 10 newborns are seen by a Plunket nurse, accounting for between 50,000 and 60,000 babies every year.

The ePHR app has been piloted in Northland since March and is being used for the free Well Child Tamariki Ora health checks, starting when the baby is two to six weeks old and lasting until the B4School check at four years.

According to Plunket, the objective of the Northland pilot was to confirm that the process of a nurse collecting and entering data about a baby into the system occurs accurately, and to gain insight into the challenges a nurse faces in using the new technology.

Around 180 families in Northland took part in the trial with 31 Plunket nurses accessing the app on tablets while on visits to the family home.

Plunket’s chief executive Jenny Prince said the ePHR had the power to help the charitable organisation to improve children’s health outcomes by connecting families more quickly with the services they need, and by reducing administration to allow nurses more time to focus on care.

Currently, Plunket nurses take a child’s health check paper record out on their home visits, but by having instant access to data via the tablet, nurses will be able see health information at a glance, which can help ensure children don’t slip through the cracks.

“It will mean that when a Plunket nurse is out on a home visit and they see another child in the family who needs a health referral, they can do that on the spot,” Ms Prince said. “Or if they get talking to a neighbouring family and find they’re not registered with Plunket, or they’ve missed an appointment, they can do it there and then.”

The new ePHR app has been built utilising an array of Microsoft cloud technologies, including Dynamics CRM Online, Azure Active Directory, Exchange Online, Skype for Business and Microsoft System Centre.

Plunket’s COO Andrea McLeod said the organisation's paper-based systems had become cumbersome and there were a number of opportunities to improve data quality, reporting, compliance and auditing.

“You can imagine how difficult managing and auditing over 60,000 clinical records per annum is,” Ms McLeod said. “Being electronic means we will have real-time data to enable us to provide a more efficient and effective service to our customers – the children and families of New Zealand.”

Microsoft worked with specialist Windows app developer Marker Metro and Microsoft Dynamics CRM specialist Koorb Consulting on the bespoke system.

Microsoft’s public sector architect, Terry Chapman, said Microsoft's cloud platform was chosen for the ePHR because of its ability to meet Plunket’s business needs without extensive and costly customisations.

He said Plunket was among the first public healthcare services providers in New Zealand to move its business to the cloud.

Plunket is now fundraising for the remaining $7 million required to roll out the app nationwide. When it is live nationally, around 600 Plunket frontline health staff will use the ePHR.

Photo courtesy Marker Metro.

Posted in New Zealand eHealth

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