MEDITECH Winning Profiles

HISS Frees Clinicians to Focus on Care

City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Trust
United Kingdom


City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Trust

City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Trust serves a local community of more than 300,000 residents in the United Kingdom, including Sunderland, Washington, and North Easington. A dedicated staff of over 3,900 care providers and hospital executives offers a comprehensive and complementatry range of acute health care and community services. In recent years, care has been extended beyond the region to Gateshead, South Tyneside, Hartlepool, and North Durham. City Hospitals Sunderland continually evolves through the acquisition of new and better technologies which innovate the way care is being delivered.

In 1995, care was consolidated in Sunderland Royal Hospital, Sunderland Eye Infirmary, and Ryhope General Hospital. As part of this centralised approach, Sunderland Royal Hospital was re-engineered to include a new coronary care unit. An additional ward block, currently under construction, will accommodate daycare, rehabilitation, ambulatory care, outpatient, and maternity services.

This triad of hospitals forms the foundation of a huge care network that encompasses outside care providers and health centers. City Hospitals maximises its use of new technologies to share patient-specific information with authorized General Practitioners, offering each patient the full scope of care. Care providers also build databases of clinical information and share them across an expanding on-line network.

Throughout its organisation-wide transition, City Hospitals has always upheld the clear vision and practice reflected in its mission statement: Excellence in Health by Putting People First. "The Trust's first and foremost goal is to focus its services on patients," says Jonathan Storey, head of information management and technology at City Hospitals. "MEDITECH's Hospital Information Support System (HISS) has always been a key component in reaching this goal because it provides such crucial information to our staff — the HISS is a tool for putting the patient at the center.”

Building An IT Infrastructure

City Hospitals chose MEDITECH's HISS because they felt it was the right system to accommodate the organisation's goals. "When evaluating information systems," says Andrew Gibson, chief executive City Hospitals, "the most important things to identify are what information you need to run the hospital, and how you wish to present it. We recognized MEDITECH's HISS as being a clinical information system that could deliver critical patient and administrative information to our staff within all our organisation's facilities as well as other care providers in the area."

Consultants, x-ray technicians, clinicians, hospital executives, nurses, paramedics — all part of the three facilities comprising City Hospitals — are using the MEDITECH HISS to access important demographic data across the Trust. Additionally, some authorised hospital physicians have remote access to the HISS and retrieve patient data from their own homes.

Paperless Records On Hospital Wards

Nurses at the Trust use MEDITECH's Nursing application to develop care plans and track patients on the wards. With Patient Care Enquiry, the basis for MEDITECH's Electronic Patient Record (EPR), authorised nurses can access secure patient records from anywhere. "The key is that it relieves nurses and other clinicians from routine paperwork, freeing them to focus on patient care," says Storey.

The speed and quality with which care is delivered can be attributed in large part to City Hospitals organisation-wide efforts to rid itself of paper-based records. The MEDITECH EPR has automated records throughout the organisation, allowing clinicians to access up-to-the-minute patient information. "We must continue to rely on electronic versions of our patient records as much as is sensible. This is key to delivering the best, most efficient patient care," says Storey.

Streamlined Admissions

At a time when patient admissions are constantly increasing, City Hospitals is equipped to accommodate these surging demands. In the past year, no emergency patients were denied admission during peak winter months. The facility always remained open, and contingency beds were opened where necessary. MEDITECH's Admissions application quickly provides hospital staff the information they need (bed availability for example), easing the process of admitting patients.

Communication Across the Organization

"Communication plays an important role among hospital personnel at City Hospitals," says Storey. MEDITECH's MAGIC Office was designed to play an integral part in a healthcare organisation's information system. Users access data from other MEDITECH applications and computer systems, maintain user-defined databases, locate staff members quickly, and review messages. "The benefits of the MEDITECH system," Storey says, "are apparent throughout the organisation, not only to our clinical providers, but to management personnel and executives as well."

Sunderland has established 13 Clinical Directorates made up of groups of medical specialties. MAGIC Office provides a vital communication link, streamlining the report process among the clinical directorates and departments.

Bolstering Best Clinical Practice

Lead clinicians and managers have taken the initiative to research and assess volumes of medical and health materials to develop a "Best Practice Database." This program is part of an ongoing effort at the Trust to advance good clinical practice. Using a web browser, a dedicated server, and thoughtful preparation, all types of personnel are becoming organisation-wide champions for important health issues. "Participants research and continually update the most current and relevant 'priorities,' such as coronary heart disease, cancer and human resources, and 'treatment regimes,' for conditions like diabetes and asthma," says Gibson.

Working in Partnership With Primary Care

The Trust has been piloting NHSnet (the UK's link to on-line health) as part of an effort to strengthen links with its primary General Practitioner partners. For example, pathology reports are extracted to standard format and sent from hospital personnel to General Practitioners via e-mail in a matter of seconds. "Using computerised patient records undoubtedly puts information in consultants' hands much faster than traditional paper-based methods," says Gibson.

Thinking Globally

As healthcare organisations across the United Kingdom strive to form alliances with primary care providers, the importance of having a fully integrated, automated system becomes apparent. Organisations rely on software solutions to keep them in conversation with other facilities, and that means finding solutions for sharing patient referrals, direct bookings to clinics, discharges, test results, and contracting data. The Trust is currently striving towards its goal of interfacing MEDITECH systems with these other health care providers to get the 'whole picture.'

We are in the midst of a cultural shift, where hospitals can no longer only think internally. The challenge for today's healthcare organisations is to adopt the concept of sharing information across a much broader spectrum of care," says Gibson. "The second ongoing challenge is to continue to find formidable technological solutions to accommodate this on-line sharing of information. In effect, we need to think on a global scale if we are to truly consolidate our patients' care."

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