Phar­ma­cists hail pa­tients’ pa­per­less win

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Health - Andrew McGarry

ALEAD­ING phar­macy or­gan­i­sa­tion ex­pects to be able to dou­ble its pa­tient load next year with the help of Aus­tralia’s first mo­bile pa­per­less pa­tient record sys­tem.

Based in South Aus­tralia, HPS Phar­ma­cies sup­plies med­i­ca­tions to hos­pi­tals, aged care and cor­rec­tional ser­vice fa­cil­i­ties. Now, us­ing a hand-held PDA as a plat­form, HPS Phar­ma­cies is in­tro­duc­ing the Clin­pod pro­gram for its 100 clin­i­cal phar­ma­cists around the coun­try, al­low­ing them to ac­cess and edit pa­tient records.

Bruce Heal, the man­ag­ing part­ner of HPS Phar­ma­cies, says that the tech­nol­ogy, which was 12 months in de­vel­op­ment, was ex­pected to lead to a sharp rise in pro­duc­tiv­ity.

‘‘ We an­tic­i­pate we will be able to see an­other 500,000 pa­tients next year, dou­bling the ca­pac­ity of our clin­i­cal phar­ma­cists be­cause of this pro­gram,’’ he says.

Heal says one of the pri­mary ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the new sys­tem will be De­part­ment of Vet­eran’s Af­fairs pa­tients, who are cov­ered by his com­pany.

‘‘ We be­lieve ev­ery DVA pa­tient in hospi­tal will be seen with­out fail,’’ he says, adding that the amount of pa­per­work re­quired to process such pa­tients had pre­vi­ously meant that not ev­ery­one could be seen by the phar­ma­cists.

The sys­tem is be­ing in­tro­duced this month to hos­pi­tals in South Aus­tralia, and should be rolled out in the east­ern states by March.

The first hospi­tal to re­ceive the sys­tem is Me­mo­rial Hospi­tal in Ade­laide.

Clin­i­cal phar­ma­cist Kirsten Boyce — who helped de­velop the Clin­pod sys­tem — says it will be a boon for hospi­tal-based phar­ma­cists.

She says some phar­ma­cists had to spend hours a day ‘‘ dou­ble han­dling’’ data — tak­ing writ­ten notes in hospi­tal and then typ­ing up in­for­ma­tion back in the of­fice and record­ing it.

The new sys­tem al­lows phar­ma­cists to do their rounds see­ing pa­tients and up­dat­ing records elec­tron­i­cally us­ing a ‘‘ tick box’’ path­way to search, re­view and edit pa­tient records. The PDAs are also linked to pro­grams such as E-MIMS and the Aus­tralian Med­i­cal Hand­book, mean­ing phar­ma­cists can check drugs and their in­ter­ac­tions. This is ex­pected to help phar­ma­cists avoid wrong ad­vice or dosages for pa­tients.

‘‘ Pre­vi­ously the hard copy (of the hand­book) sat in a phar­macy of­fice which might be two or three floors away. Some phar­ma­cists would choose to carry it with them, but it is quite cum­ber­some,’’ Boyce says.

She says the sys­tem will be par­tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive for older pa­tients, who may have to use mul­ti­ple med­i­ca­tions. ‘‘ Some pa­tients have up to 13 or 14 med­i­ca­tions, with mul­ti­ple con­di­tions. You have to have se­ri­ous me­mory (abil­ity as a phar­ma­cist), but you are also very much re­liant on your re­sources.’’

HPS Phar­ma­cies deals mostly with private hos­pi­tals and aged care fa­cil­i­ties, but Heal sees no rea­son why there could not be an ex­pan­sion into the pub­lic sys­tem. ‘‘ If pub­lic hos­pi­tals want to use the sys­tem, that would be great,’’ he says. ‘‘ For the first 12 months we will be con­sol­i­dat­ing the Clin­pod (in ex­ist­ing ar­eas). But af­ter a year or so there is noth­ing to stop us try­ing to on­sell to oth­ers.’’

Pic­ture: Kelly Barnes

Dou­ble check: Clin­i­cal phar­ma­cist Kirsten Boyce uses a PDA to ver­ify med­i­ca­tions against pa­tient records

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