Patient notes digital switch for private healthcare network

Thursday , 25 March 2021 by Alaina McGregor

Southern Cross Healthcare has completed the rollout of an electronic clinical notes solution across its hospital network, moving the organisation one step closer to its goal of having a paperless patient record by the end of 2022.

The implementation of the digital patient notes software is a key step in an overall patient record upgrade by Southern Cross Healthcare, formerly Southern Cross Hospitals, and is designed to support quality care for patients.

The business anticipates that when the technology is fully deployed to all nurses, doctors, physios and pharmacists who provide care in Southern Cross Healthcare’s hospital facilities, more than one million individual clinical notes will be captured and viewed online each year.

Already since the start of the roll-out in December 2020, just shy of 200,000 notes have been logged electronically across Southern Cross Healthcare’s 15 wholly owned and joint venture hospitals.

Southern Cross Healthcare’s director of nursing Carey Campbell, clinical lead for the programme, said moving away from handwritten clinical notes means safer and more effective healthcare.

“Electronic clinical notes give immediate access to critical patient information, as opposed to having to wait for a single hard copy file. It also enables better clinical decision making and medical specialists can access information remotely to assist with monitoring patients. This not only improves continuity of care but also helps to improve clinical auditing.

“Our nursing staff alone generally write notes every two hours as part of their patient rounds and the numbers can add up quickly. Our nurses have enthusiastically embraced the new technology with many reporting that it’s much faster to log the online patient notes than the paper-based method.”

The next phase of the digital patient notes rollout will see staff updating patient files using smartphones at the bedside, in addition to the option of using tablets or other larger computer devices, to speed up the process even more, added Campbell.

“We anticipate this will mean shorter notes, more often, and once we have all of our hospitals utilising smaller pocket devices, it will increase the number of notes even more, which assists with patient monitoring.”

Southern Cross Healthcare partnered with Auckland-based medical software company Orion Health to configure the digital patient notes solution, which has robust security measures in place to protect patient privacy.

“Implementing digital patient notes is just one part of the innovative end-to-end electronic patient record programme that we’re developing with Orion Health. The next phase will involve rolling out the paperless electronic vitals (e-vitals) solution and developing a medication management solution,” said Campbell.

Niru Rajakumar, client success group director of Orion Health, for Australia and New Zealand, is delighted to work with Southern Cross Healthcare.

"We’re pleased to have partnered with Southern Cross Healthcare to enable a digital patient notes solution that provides a seamless experience for all users. This has set the bar for continuous innovation between our two organisations and I look forward to ongoing collaboration," said Mr Rajakumar.