Northland DHB has had a second project accepted for the Microsoft Innovation Centre scheme. The project is aimed at improving communication between specialists and general practitioners regarding patients’ conditions, particularly when a patient is on “active review” for surgery.
A number of patients each year fall outside the “greatest need” surgery threshold and are placed on “active review”. They are reassessed every six months.
The planned system will allow the patient’s GP to be more fully involved in the review through exchanging digital information with the specialist using the standard HL7 protocol over the VPN already used for communicating other patient data.
Enabling the new data to be packaged into an HL7 format would normally require some ad-hoc programming. Microsoft’s XML-based Biztalk software already provides an HL7 interface, says Northland innovations team leader Dennis Pram, so ease of development neatly coincides with the requirement on Innovation Centre applicants to use Microsoft software.
“The innovation centre has a development phase of six months,” says Pram. “We’ve been doing some preliminary work, but we kicked the process off officially mid-November.” There will be about two months’ development, followed by a two-month pilot, then an assessment of what has been learned and what needs changing, Pram says.
The Innovation Centre scheme only funds development to proof-of-concept stage, so the board will need to find its own funding for further development. A final version may start rolling out about the middle of next year.
The first project, covering mobile communication with district nurses, is “just getting to the point of implementation” and will probably roll out in about the same time-frame.
Development partner for both projects is FirstBASE. The DHB nominated that company because it has had positive experience with it in the development of a data warehouse, says Pram.