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Frequently asked questions, answered.

1. What is a digital hospital?

A digital hospital
  • Automatically feeds key elements of patient data directly from monitoring systems and diagnostic providers to the electronic medical record (EMR). This saves time and helps avoid errors in documentation.
  • Provides an automated, ‘paper-light’ environment through the use of electronic medical records, which incorporates care pathways and decision support based on international best practice. This enables optimal clinical decisions resulting in better patient outcomes.
  • Provides real-time clinical alerts on allergies, medications, and abnormal vitals and results.
  • Eliminates manually written orders and notes by doctors and clinicians. This avoids errors in translating handwriting.
  • Provides electronic orders to diagnostic providers, such as radiology and pathology.
  • Provides a fully up-to-date patient record to multiple healthcare workers in multiple locations.
  • Allows doctors and staff to document findings and observations electronically using multiple types of devices in the patient care area; theatre, bedside, mobile, nurse station.
  • Offers patient, community, and medical portals.
  • Links with external resources, including medical consultants, other UnitingCare Health  and public hospitals, and diagnostic providers.
  • Provides a patient entertainment system, including television, internet, movies, and educational materials to prepare for discharge.
  • Tracks equipment and patients electronically.
  • Provides a staff and doctor voice recognition system.
  • Uses various advanced technologies to provide a fully-integrated set of applications and services that improve staff productivity and satisfaction, hospital operations, quality, patient safety, and the overall patient experience.

The digital hospital does not just involve the implementation of technology, but also transforms healthcare delivery. This transformation will establish St Stephen’s Hervey Bay as the national benchmark in automated patient care in Australia.

2. What are the benefits of a digital hospital?

The eHealth initiative is focussed on enabling best practice healthcare and patient care outcomes by implementing the latest proven eHealth technologies at St Stephen’s Hospital Hervey Bay. The benefits of the project will impact the people who really matter; our patients, visitors, staff, and healthcare professionals. These benefits include:
  1. Improvements in patient experience due to more efficient patient-centric processes
  2. Improvements in quality and safety through improved access to information, increasing adherence with standard processes, increased audit trails, and better documentation.
  3. Improvements in front-line staff and doctor satisfaction through improved efficiency, the ability to spend more time with patients and improved tools.
  4. Better linkages across the continuum of care, with information flowing between public and private healthcare providers, including orders and tests and referrals and discharges;
  5. Linkages to universities and metropolitan hospitals to provide access to training and to additional expertise;
  6. Greater employment opportunities and the ability to attract and retain healthcare workers in the region;
  7. Community pride in having a first class showcase healthcare facility.

3. What is an eHealth record?

An eHealth record, also referred to as an electronic medical record (EMR), is an electronic summary of a patient’s health records. This includes information such as patient demographics, medical history, procedures carried out, care given, medications, test results, and allergies. It is one component of an eHealth management system that includes programmes for scheduling, resource and inventory management, and patient billing.

4. Why has St Stephen’s transitioned to an electronic medical record?

Having an electronic medical record can make getting the right treatment faster, safer and easier:

  • Faster: Healthcare professionals will not have to spend time searching for patient charts and past treatment information. They will be able to immediately access, and contribute to, a single, comprehensive, up-to-date record on multiple devices (tablets, mobile phones, computers on wheels, nurse stations) and from multiple locations.
  • Safer: Authorised professionals will be able to immediately view the full breadth of patient information, including any allergies, health history details, and treatments received to date. That way, they can make more informed decisions. Decision support is also available for some critical components surrounding medications, allergies, and vital signs to minimise the potential for human error. Scheduled patient care and tasks are not able to be overlooked, as reminders will automatically be generated for overdue tasks.
  • Easier: Medical monitors can automatically send information on a patient’s heart rate, blood pressure and temperature to the EMR, rather than the clinicians having to write it down on the patient chart. This eliminates human error in transcribing this data to a paper record and reading other people’s handwriting. It also saves a lot of time.

The EMR enables improved sharing of clinical information between healthcare professionals, thus providing a more comprehensive and efficient healthcare system.

5. How is it different from the current system?

At the moment, most of your healthcare information is stored in different paper-based files. Some of your information might be stored on computers, but these computers are not inter-connected, so it is not easy to share or track this vital information. An electronic medical record, will allow your information to be shared quickly and easily by the healthcare professionals looking after you at St Stephen’s, between UnitingCare Health facilities, and with some other healthcare providers, such as your GP.

6. Will everyone at St Stephen’s Hervey Bay have an electronic medical record?

Yes, but the transition will take time. An eHealth record will be set up for all new admissions to the new digital hospital. Paper records belonging to patients who have visited St Stephen’s prior to the digital hospital opening will be scanned and attached to new EMRs when they next visit the hospital, so that we can maintain one source of truth for all patients.

7. Why is it better than what I have now?

With an eHealth record, authorised St Stephen’s healthcare professionals can access a comprehensive, up-to-date online summary of your information whenever and wherever they need to, to ensure you get the fastest, most accurate care possible. Your eHealth record will have strong security and privacy safeguards – all authorised healthcare professionals will need a user ID and password to access your record. St Stephen’s management will be able to monitor who has accessed or updated your eHealth record.

8. When will I get an eHealth record?

An eHealth record will be set up for you the next time you visit St Stephen’s Hervey Bay digital hospital. All existing paper-based records will be scanned and attached to your new eHealth record.

9. What will be in my eHealth record?

Your eHealth record will contain a variety of information gathered during each episode of care, including:

  • Basic demographics, such as your age, gender, and next of kin
  • Medicare and private healthcare details
  • Medical history, any allergies you have, and medication you are currently taking
  • Details of your treatment, including doctor notes, charts, and medications prescribed
  • Laboratory and radiology results received during your care

As the system develops, more of your healthcare information can be added by the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals involved in your care, including any treatment you may receive or medication you are prescribed. Your eHealth record will build up over time.

10. Can I see my eHealth record?

Only St Stephen’s staff and accredited medical practitioners can log into the eHealth record. However, should you have any questions regarding your eHealth record, please ask the team treating you.

11. How does the eHealth system make medications management safer?

The eHealth record makes prescribing and dispensing of medication safer and more effective. It shows in detail the medications you have been prescribed, including the brand and ingredient names, the dose of the medication, and the direction for consumption. Similar information is also displayed in your eHealth record as your medications are dispensed. This gives healthcare professionals more detailed access to information about your medications than ever before and supports better clinical decision making. This will particularly benefit patients with high healthcare needs who use multiple medications.

12. In an emergency, will doctors be able to access my eHealth record, even if they are not on site at St Stephen’s Hospital?

Yes. Authorised St Stephen’s doctors will have remote access to your EMR via their computer, mobile phone, or iPad. This way, they’ll be able to provide faster, more effective treatment in case of emergency.

13. What happens if I have to change the doctor I see?

No matter how many different St Stephen’s healthcare professionals are involved in your care, everyone involved in your care will be able to view your record and see the same information.

14. Can parts of my record be deleted?

No. Nothing can ever be deleted permanently form the electronic record. This means that there will always be a record of who has access your EMR and every update that has been made to it.

15. What happens if I move to a different address?

Every time you visit St Stephen’s, your details will be reviewed and updated, where necessary. You should notify admission staff of any information that may have changed, including you address, referring GP, and health provider details.

16. Will staff or carers at aged care facilities be able to access my eHealth record?

No. The eHealth record is only accessible by authorised St Stephen’s healthcare professionals.

17. What if I have questions?

St Stephen’s is dedicated to ensuring the local community is fully informed. Please contact St Stephen’s on 07 4120 1200 if you would like to speak to a Hospital representative.

Privacy and Security

1. Who has access to the eHealth record?

Only authorised UnitingCare Health professionals can access the eHealth record. These people are granted access to particular parts of the eHealth record, depending on their role and association with the patient. The ability to set access control measures is an important privacy feature of the eHealth record. All authorised healthcare professionals will need a user ID and password to access your record. Your eHealth record will be protected by law and there will be tough privacy and security rules as well as penalties for people who break these rules.

2. How is the eHealth record kept private?

eHealth records are protected by existing and new legislation. Records are also protected by audit trails, technology, and data management controls, as well as security measures to protect against unauthorised access to patient information.

3. What happens if someone accesses the eHealth record without permission?

Legislation contains penalties for unauthorised access to patient information.

4. How can healthcare professionals access the eHealth record?

Authorised UnitingCare Health professionals will be issued with a user ID and password, which allows them to view the eHealth record during your episode of care.

5. How do authorised users get a login and password?

Once each user has received security clearance, our Information Services Division (ISD) provides them with a user ID and password. They do not share these access details with anybody else – there are strict penalties for doing so.

6. Who has access to the login details of each user?

Nobody else has access to a user’s password. However, the account manager can reset a user’s password, should they forget it. These passwords must be kept secret to prevent unauthorised access. 

7. Are account managers able to see who has accessed or updated the eHealth record?

Yes. Managers can see an activity history of each eHealth record, showing when information has been added or removed, and by whom.

8. Is the electronic medical record as safe as current paper-based medical records?

Yes. In fact, it is safer, since it limits access via passwords and maintains a record of everyone who accesses it and everything that is done within it.

9. Where are eHealth records kept?

UnitingCare Health has made a significant investment with its eHealth solutions partner to keep and maintain the computer systems that look after the eHealth records. Our partner employs a highly experienced group of professionals in Australia to maintain the equipment and look after the systems. The computer systems reside in a large data centre specially built to house sensitive information and provide very high levels of redundancy should anything break. Patient records are kept in a very secure area that is monitored 24/7 and uses multiple layers of redundancy to ensure power, cooling and connectivity remain functional, even under severe circumstances.

10. What happens if the power fails?

The hospital has a very robust power system and is connected to the electricity grid through two separate power feeds. So, if one fails, the other will handle all the hospital’s power needs. Located onsite are two large diesel generators that will keep power flowing to the hospital for critical systems such as surgery, wards and computers. There is zero chance of losing any data as all information is saved to hard disk immediately and is unaffected by power loss. During power loss to the site, the backup systems will kick in and emergency systems will operate until full power is restored. Doctors and nurses can access your electronic patient records via backup systems that are located on site and can operate until full function of the hospital is restored.

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