Excellence Awards: Saving lives and costs

Replacing a doctor's illegible scrawl when issuing prescriptions is credited with saving lives at Middlemore Hospital.

Replacing a doctor's illegible scrawl when issuing prescriptions is credited with saving lives at Middlemore Hospital.

Research suggests that a small percentage of patient admissions to a New Zealand hospital suffer an adverse drug event, sometimes suffering serious injury or even death, after being given the wrong drugs.

Reasons include the patient being allergic to the prescribed drug, the drug reacting to another that's being taken, or the pharmacy incorrectly reading the doctor's handwriting and misprescribing.

Dr Joseph Foote, clinical consultant of Counties Manukau DHB's strategic projects team, who trialled e-prescribing last year, says the current system creates "great legibility problems with a doctor's scribble".

The trial involved hospital staff using laptops over the hospital wireless network, employing Java-based software written by Auckland-based Orion Systems.

The software was designed to spot any clashes between drugs and allergy cases and reorder drug stocks. The emailed messages were also more legible.

Counties Manukau DHB says while doctors found the new system took longer, they liked it because of time saving and fewer errors.

A nationwide rollout of the system, a finalist in the "overall excellence in the use of IT" category of the Computerworld Excellence Awards, is being contemplated.

Software created by a Rotorua-based company promises forestry industry savings of more than $75 million a year.

HarvestPro NZ says its CYANZ forestry product, which helps the timber industry decide how certain trees should be felled, is 25 times faster than the system it replaces.

The software was released earlier this year and sold all New Zealand’s major forestry companies this month, with HarvestPro expecting 100% adoption by year-end.

Products manager planner James Powrie of forestry company Rayonier says CYANZ is a breakthrough compared with older systems which were based on 1980s technology.

Written in Delphi, CYANZ works in a Windows-based environment and allows harvest planners to test best options for cable logging, to minimise total forest harvesting and forest roading costs. The geographical information systems-based CYANZ produces information on the shape of the landscape that a tree is growing on and determines the best "tail-hold" position. The best site is one that can access the greatest area, obtain the highest payload, and cater for the most appropriate machinery type.

New Zealand Post has created an internet-based supply chain management system that tracks where bulk deliveries are, helping the organisation plan appropriate staffing levels.

The Letters International Supply Chain Optimisation (LISCO) application, introduced in February, deals with post from Australia. It works like this: if Readers Digest had a shipment of 100,000 letters, a lodgement would go to all points along the distribution line. The freight forwarder would decide how the shipment was coming across and NZ Post would be told the flight number. NZ Post would then check the shipment using a coding system, which it claims is far more accurate and so reduces error-related costs.

The application was created using Microsoft technologies and extensive use of XML. It runs on SQL Server. Central to it is the Viibe online business process management tool from NZ Post subsidiary Infolink, which allows users to see the whole supply chain.

NZ Post facilities management team leader Nira Mitchell says before LISCO there was "effectively nothing" barring a "haphazard" fax-based system to let him know what bulk mail might be coming from overseas. He can now see for up to two weeks what deliveries are on their way.

The fourth finalist is the Ministry of Economic Development’s Personal Property Securities Register, as reported on July 7 in the government category. Billed as New Zealand’s first fully electronic register, the site offers a single accessible register for security interests other than land. It claims to "create greater certainty in business transactions" and has been hailed by the New Zealand Law Society as "the most significant change to commercial law in a practising lifetime".

The Overall Excellence in the Use of IT award is sponsored by IBM.

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