E-drugs on cards after clinic pilot

A pilot project that provides wireless access to patient records at Dunedin Hospital may lead to a system of automated drug prescription, according to the doctor heading the trial.

Dr Brendon Rae says the trial involves three teams of two doctors - a registrar and a house surgeon - downloading lab data and x-ray results to notebooks via wireless links to servers on site. The doctors can then access and update patient records remotely from the notebooks, which run the locally produced i-health software.

Significant time savings are being achieved, Rae says, as junior doctors no longer have to physically collect results.

After the trial is finished, a decision will be made on whether to purchase software from Canberra-based Hatrix for electronic drug prescription, Rae says. "If, for example, the patient is allergic to penicillin, the system wouldn't accept it."

The i-health trial is still at proof-of-concept stage, he says.

The hospital's technical leader, Mark Black, says the set-up is running on Cisco Aironet gear and Toshiba notebooks, using the 802.11b standard, also known as Wi-Fi. The hospital plans to buy another two wireless stations and five more notebooks to extend the trial to two more floors at the hospital, and the emergency department is also interested, he says.

I-health is an Auckland-based vendor of health management software that was spun off the Galen Group. It has sold its software to a number of other hospitals in New Zealand and Australia.

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