SWARH Case Study ImageSouth West Alliance of Rural Health (SWARH), which covers 13 hospitals and 114 sites over 60,000sqkm throughout the south-west region of Victoria (Australia), has deployed the InterSystems TrakCare unified healthcare information system to create a regional electronic health record (EHR).

Key Benefits

  • Regional health information access
  • Increased productivity and efficiency
  • Improved coordination of care
  • Reduced support overheads

Portland District Hospital, which serves a local population of over 16,000 residents, is the first public hospital in the SWARH region to extend their use of TrakCare to include electronic medication management. Portland Hospital’s medication management data is now available across the regional EHR system.

This initiative, which extends the benefits of closed loop electronic medication management beyond the hospital and into the community, is part of SWARH’s strategy to implement electronic medication management more broadly across the region. Anticipated benefits include increased patient safety through fewer adverse events due to prescribing errors and allergic reactions.

Early research presented by Portland Hospital’s Quality Unit showed that productivity increased in the four months after implementing electronic medication management. It found that the time to create initial charts for new patients declined by 30%and for returning patients declined by 55%. It also found that the pharmacy department halved the amount of time spent reviewing medication charts because they were more readily accessible online. In the future, the Portland implementation is also expected to improve patient safety and bring financial benefits by preventing adverse medication events.

“All Portland Hospital patients now have their medications ordered and administered through TrakCare Medication Management,” said Katharina Redford, Divisional Manager –Productivity and Development at SWARH. “The medications they use before, during and after hospitalisation are now included in the discharge summary reconciliation.”

All Portland Hospital patients now have their medications ordered and administered through TrakCare Medication Management.

Katharina Redford, Divisional Manager – Productivity and Development at SWARH

Key to the success of the Portland implementation was a high level of clinician adoption. Redford attributed this to the support of the chief executive and ensuring staff had input into the system’s design and were thoroughly trained in its use. Importantly, contingency measures in the hospital’s existing medication management protocols were effectively transferred to the new electronic system to protect patient safety.

TrakCare’s usability and ease of configuration also contributed to the high level of adoption. “The users influenced the configuration of the system. They had a lot to say about how the screens looked and how their workflows fitted in,” Redford said. “InterSystems has been very responsive in minimizing any frustration with the usability of the system.”

In the next phase, SWARH will use TrakCare’s integration capabilities to implement secure electronic messaging for uploading discharge summaries to the Australian Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) and to share them with general practitioners. TrakCare will also integrate with Portland Hospital’s pharmacy system to create Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS) compliant discharge descriptions, so patients can fill prescriptions outside the hospital.