Nurses know best at South Auckland Health

A 'system critical' application has been developed at South Auckland Heatlh to automate and solve bed management problems, kitchen orders, prescriptions and patient schedules, diagnosis and travelling details.

Here's a new idea: end users creating applications.

What started out as a way to encourage nurses at South Auckland Health to fill out shift hand-over sheets correctly has grown in stages into a “system critical” application that has automated and solved bed management problems, kitchen orders, prescriptions and patient schedules, diagnosis and travelling details. It has subsequently been rolled out across every ward.

John Weerink, the two-year-old project’s chief and former nurse, who taught himself programming as he built it, says he designed Wims (ward information management system) to be intuitive with easy-use online help – so no formal training has been required for the newbies. “It was always driven from the user side,” he says.

Weerink says previously there was no incentive for nurses to fill in their hand-over sheets in full. Now they have to in order to get a printout. Wims was then rolled out for bed management between admissions, the emergency department and the wards to stop phone-tag being played and time delays. It was also rolled out to the front-desk inquiry telephone service, to enable it to operate like a call centre, and to kitchen staff keen to stop chasing nurses for late orders. Now if nurses forget, the system rings the ward continuously until they do it. Wims also produces a detailed patient list for clinicians on rounds.

Most of the kitchen staff and the head bed allocator, Karrill Shuker, had never used a computer before. Shuker used to walk the wards with sheets of paper counting beds. Shuker loves the fact that she’s done 22,000 bed bookings with no double-ups since the system’s introduction in July, 2000.

The hospital has over 600 beds and 30 wards and over 2000 staff are using Wims, including the emergency department. Over 570,000 “condition” codes have been logged, and more than 500,000 meals have been ordered. Information is now analysed to asses KPIs for each department. The next pilot will be job logging for doctors.

Wims uses Access and Oracle 8.05 databases and backs directly into the hospital’s four year-old admission and discharge Pims system from iSOFT, with no processing done at the front end.

Weerink and his project partner, Maija-Stina Out, say the application was developed on a slim budget and while autonomous, benefited from other in-house IT projects as the hospital works towards regional connectivity. Weerink says Wims was only possible because of the modern architecture and openness of the Pims system.

Out says the pair is now hosting site visits by other hospitals and have presented to a trans-Tasman health roundtable.

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