Health board ponders more wireless

Auckland Healthcare is considering extending its recent rollout of notebooks and community care-related software to other remote workers.

Auckland Healthcare is considering extending its recent rollout of notebooks and community care-related software to other remote workers.

The current project involves community clinicians inputting and accessing data wirelessly offsite and forms part of a $3.1 million computerised patient records system. It is expected to save the body $700,000 a year by increasing the efficiency of 900 mental and community health users.

Initially 145 Toshiba laptops costing around $500,000 have been issued to Auckland District Health Board staff. While some doctors and managers have used notebooks in their work, the ADHB says this is the first time notebooks have been used intensively to manage health care in a specific part of the organisation.

With the notebooks, community clinicians can download their work schedule plus client care plans each morning. Miguel Hamber, information systems manager for community, ambulatory and mental health services, says the system replaces paper-based notetaking and lets staff access patient data while offsite instead of having to make phone calls. At present the system is being used by mental health workers and could soon include lab results, incorporating scanned images of documents and digital pictures from radiology, but ADHB CIO Pam Nobbs says a decision by the board to extend the use of the laptops to other health staff who work remotely with patients would be made “in the near future”.

The system is specifically designed for mental health, she says, but it can be used by anyone working remotely. “If there are opportunities, we will try and leverage our existing investment.”

The new system combines 26 different databases. A wide area network was also installed across various points throughout Auckland. The software application, HealthCare Community, written by Auckland-based IntraHealth Systems, features a SQL database back end and a Delphi front end. It supports up to 1000 people using desktop and notebook PCs on the organisation’s network.

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