The transformation from pen and paper to a fully computerized electronic health record (EHR) had a profound impact on Peninsula Health staff in Victoria, Australia.
A government initiative to improve citizens’ health care led to the EHR implementation. After completing a four-year implementation of Cerner Millennium® in 2013, hospital staff started seeing improvements in multiple areas, including medication administration and tracking.
“One of our key targets when we introduced electronic meds management was around our medication reconciliation process,” said Karla Pargetter, clinical systems operations manager and eHealth operational lead.
Peninsula Health, a multi-site health service, continues to see improvements years later, including medication reconciliation — a process that compares a patient’s current medications with their patient records.
Changes to the EHR, as well as a sitewide plan of education and best practices for staff helped the hospital’s medication reconciliation rate rise.
“Our medication reconciliation on admission hovered around seven to 10 percent within 24 hours in 2013,” said Lyn Jamieson, chief operating officer.
But from June 2015 through June 2017, medication reconciliation documented within a calendar day, as well as patients with a best possible medication history rose to nearly 70 percent or above. Utilizing electronic records simplified and streamlined medication reconciliation, making it easy to quickly complete the process.
The EHR also helps ensure more Peninsula Health patients receive a complete and comprehensive list of medicines upon discharge.
“The information sits beautifully on a discharge summary that automatically goes out to the patient’s general practitioner,” said Pargetter. “That’s the benefit. It’s transparency, it’s almost real-time information.”
Utilizing the EHR led to other medication improvements as well. Barcode ID scanning matches patients with their drug charts to help cut the number of mistakes and to help ensure patients receive correct medications.
Undertaking this large-scale shift to an EHR helped Peninsula Health win an Australian Council on Healthcare Standards Award in 2013.
“It’s a really important component that we have clinicians working in eHealth and technology,” said Pargetter. “We need to allow clinicians to have a voice; we need the technology sector to hear and to respond to that, and then put it together in a way that ultimately improves our patient outcomes and efficiencies.”