Southland seeks unified clinical info system

The Southland District Health Board is looking to replace its array of core patient-related software packages with an integrated clinical information system.

The Southland District Health Board is looking to replace its array of core patient-related software packages with an integrated clinical information system.

Southland’s systems are based around IBA Health’s patient administration system and include Detente radiology and laboratory software, the mental health package OraCare and E Pi’s pharmacy software WinDose.

“What I’m trying to do is get a solution to wrap up all those,” says chief financial officer Robert Mackway-Jones. “There are a lot of products on the market, but the trick is to find one that has true integration.”

Reducing the number of core systems is a key component of the DHB’s future plans, “as it will eliminate headaches where different products have to integrate through HL7 messaging”. HL7 is a set of health IT standards.

The board’s RFI tender, which closed last week, states that a key requirement of the system is that it be delivered via “a single relational or post-relational database capable of providing a clinical information system and foundation for an electronic health record”.

The successful vendor will be chosen early next year. The system is scheduled to be fully implemented by June 2004, the opening date for the board’s $70 million new hospital.

“A lot of the core functionality we’d expect to have live by February 2004. Bits will be up and running before the opening and some bits afterwards, in the tricky, small volume area.”

August of 2004 is the scheduled date for full integration with the primary healthcare sector. Mackway-Jones says that will involve GPs and other clinical personnel having access to the hospital-based system.

“That means being able to provide referrals online, review patient discharge summaries and test results— for example, a GP will be able to look up a patient to see what previous lab tests have been requested. All that information sharing will be subject to the relevant privacy protocols.”

At present the board runs 260 “fat” clients, including laptops and 200 thin clients on Terminal Server, but the new hospital is expected to house up to 600 clients, according to the RFI documents.

The board has also issued a separate RFI for an enterprise-wide digital imaging system which will include computed radiography services.

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