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St GeorgeHad St George’s Hospital intentionally set about to trial the integration capabilities of the TrakCare Web-based healthcare information system, it probably could not have devised a more strenuous test than the New Zealand government’s mandatory integration requirements.

After evaluating all of the competing systems supported in New Zealand, St George’s, one of the country’s leading private hospitals, selected TrakCare to replace an older Galen healthcare information system. Before the hospital could gain the expected benefits from better understanding its care costs and integration with external systems, however, TrakCare first had to be integrated with New Zealand’s National Health Index (NHI).

“Integration with the NHI was a critical piece,” says Greg Brooks, Finance Manager for St George’s Hospital. “It was not a simple task – other vendors said they would have a lot of difficulty in getting NHI compliance.” TrakCare’s ability to quickly integrate with the National Health Index demonstrated how easy it would be for St George’s Hospital to integrate with other healthcare systems, such as external pathology and radiology. “Having an integration platform built into TrakCare gives you the confidence that there is a great deal of flexibility, no matter what happens in the future,” says Brooks. The ‘FastTrak to ePR’ rapid integration capability within TrakCare makes this possible.

Swift boost to the bottom line

Phase one of the hospital’s TrakCare rollout has seen it create a Patient Administration System (PAS) with a hospital-wide Electronic Patient Record (ePR), Operating Theatre Management, and Maternity Management. TrakCare worked with the hospital to customise the software for New Zealand conditions.

Having an integration platform built into TrakCare gives you the confidence that there is a great deal of flexibility, no matter what happens in the future.

Greg Brooks, Finance Manager
St George’s Hospital

Success has been swift in coming: even with conversion and NHI certification the software took just eight months to implement and has put the hospital on the leading edge of worldwide healthcare practices. “We are one of the few hospitals where nursing staff are users of the clinical system, where they enter data at the point of care,” says Brooks. “It is that automation plus the new billing support which gives us a lot of information about what is being used.”

The availability of better quality information has a tangible effect on St George’s bottom line, he adds. “With medical supplies, it is not unusual for a disposable item to be A$300-A$400; laproscopic staplers can be A$1000. If you miss one of these then your ability to make a profit goes out the window. Even small items make a difference. If you don’t include sutures you’d be surprised how quickly your margins are eroded.”

Managing profit margins is just one of Brooks’ concerns. St George’s is also grappling with an increasingly complex billing environment as multiple payers including health funds, New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Corporation, and surgeon groups can all have different billing requirements, making it important for Brooks and his team to better understand and analyse patient care costs.

“It is important to know exactly what our costs are and compare them with the contract price, and that is where TrakCare comes in,” says Brooks.

From care provider to service provider

St George’s Hospital also plans to make more use of TrakCare in the future and has planned a second phase of its implementation that will see it use the software to deliver Medical Records Tracking, integration with external pathology and radiology systems, and Clinical Discharge Summaries which can be communicated externally to surgeons and general practitioners.

“With phase two, we will look at integrating electronic records from radiology and pathology providers, and communicating them to external clinicians,” says Brooks. “We also want to give system access to primary users like surgeons so they can access the system and see what theatre space is available, for example. There will be a lot of innovation going forward.”

Most importantly, TrakCare has been able to achieve these outcomes without increasing St. George’s IT budget.

“When we visited sites in Australia and saw the number of people required to maintain competing systems, we were very concerned,” says Brooks. “We have a single administrator who looks after all our computer systems. The last thing we wanted to do was employ extra people costing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. TrakCare has let us achieve our goals without needing more staff.”

TrakCare not offered in the United States.