09 November 2011
Phase 1 of the roll-out of the ‘Shared Care Record’ – a way of electronically sharing vital health information among Health professionals in the Wairarapa – was completed last week, and already has already reduced risks for patients and saved hours of work.
“Within the first two days I had used the system half a dozen times,” says GP Annie Lincoln. “I was working at Whaiora and seeing new patients. Normally it takes time and phone calls to access their previous clinical notes, but with the Shared Care Record, all I had to do was log on and information on the patient’s diagnosis, current medications, and allergy status was immediately available.”
In one instance, a new patient informed Dr Lincoln that she was on eight medications and had allergies to several others, but could not recall the names of either the current medications or the ones to which she was allergic. “It was a real relief to have access to the Shared Care Record,” said Dr Lincoln. “Not only could I be confident I was not prescribing something that would cause known harm, but the patient avoided a potentially long wait for me to be able to access the information I needed, and consequently, the next patient avoided an unnecessary wait too.”
The software being used for the Shared Care Record is a New Zealand-built product which enables health providers to easily access a summary record of patient information through a secure web-browser connection. Only authorised health professionals can access the information. The scheme is being rolled out in the Wairarapa, with Whaiora, Masterton Medical, Carterton and Martinborough General Practices, covering 80% of the population, now all ‘on-line’. Access from the Emergency Department of Wairarapa Hospital is planned for later this month.
“Taking part in this scheme has very real benefits in terms of safety and patient care, and best use of everyone’s time,” says Wairarapa DHB Chief Medical Officer Dr Alan Shirley. “However, it’s important to know that individual patients can “opt out” if they do not want the selected information of their primary care health record shared with hospital staff through the Shared Care Record process. If they do not want their health information shared in this way they can tell their general practice, write to a free-post address or free-phone 0800 SCR MMH or 0800 727 664.”
The system is being rolled out across the Wairarapa, in conjunction with other local PHOs within the Capital and Coast and MidCentral health districts in the coming months.