High-tech healthcare

KAUH has implemented Medicom’s healthcare specific software solution and integrated it with Oracle Financials. As a result, the medical institute has been able to improve internal efficiencies and reduce errors.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  September 28, 2003

|~||~||~|King Abdullah University Hospital (KAUH) has deployed Medicom’s healthcare specific information management solution to improve its operational effectiveness, enhance patient safety and mitigate errors in care delivery. The software’s integrated workflow capabilities replace existing manual processes within the Jordanian hospital. It also addresses areas in which the institute required additional functionality and a better management overview, such as ordering, prescribing and patient charting.

“Even though we are a very new hospital and have been in operation for less than two years, we were generating a lot of paper-based records. Also, we were finding it difficult to do a number of things, such as scheduling the delivery of the physical records into the clinic. It was taking too many employees to keep moving medical records from one place to another,” explains Dr. Abdullah Bataineh, hospital IT director at KAUH.

“We believed that IT was a must and would not only help solve our problems but keep us going in the direction that the health industry in general is heading in,” he adds.

Implemented in conjunction with Medicom, KAUH has already gone live with several core modules, including patient registration, and it has also installed a number of patient care applications, such as operating theatre, radiology, pharmacy and laboratory.

“During the first phase of the project we wanted to deal with the out patients, so all of the registering, appointment making and patient indexing was done [online],” says Dr. Bataineh. “The second phase dealt with the labs and radiology. It also addressed order entry so that we could place orders via PCs,” he continues.

The healthcare solution runs on a number of high end servers from Sun and NT based application servers from HP. It is accessed via 600 PCs that are scattered throughout the hospital and connected to the centrally hosted application by a Cisco switch based network.

“Currently, the electronic medical records are accessed through computers in each ward. We have two or three in each ward and one in each clinic. There are also printers because sometimes the doctors like to take a printout of the results,” explains Dr. Bataineh.

“Each doctor and nurse has a password that enables them to log into the system, see the results and print them out if they wish,” he adds.

In addition to password protection, KAUH’s IT team has created rigid profiles so that doctors can only access the files pertaining to their patients. It has also implemented ‘track & trace,’ so that the system logs which employees have accessed a patient’s records.

“Each doctor can see only his patients... We run a trace when anyone accesses the records of a patient so that if anything gets changed that shouldn’t have been changed we will know who has done it,” adds Dr. Bataineh.

||**|||~||~||~|KAUH has run, and continues to carry out, an intensive training campaign to ensure doctors and nurses can use the system. Dr. Bataineh reports that the medical staff bought into this because the system delivers functions that they require, both to do their jobs and get paid.

“Training is the most difficult part. As such, we have a department that schedules training, on a daily basis, for small sections of doctors, nurses and other users. This is a continual programme and will not finish because training has to be ongoing. It determines the success of the project,” says Dr. Bataineh.

KAUH is already experiencing increased accuracy and speed in registration and scheduling with the Medicom solution. For instance, its queue management capabilities have significantly reduced patient waiting time and the software’s automated workflow has accelerated patient turnover.

“We have reduced the queues for our patients and the service time has dropped… If you had come to the hospital a year ago you would have found that there were large queues. Now you won’t,” says Dr. Bataineh.

In addition to speeding the flow of people through the hospital, KAUH has been able to accelerate the labs process as reports no longer have to be physically shuttled around the institute. Accuracy has also been increased because lab teams can access the system directly.

Standards of care throughout the medical institute have also improved due to the system’s ability to generate warnings over excess dosages, repeat ordering, conflicting exams and patient sensitivities. This capability has also helped the Jordanian hospital reign in its drug spend and improve its supply chain, as the system tells doctors if the drug they have prescribed is in stock, or if there is a cheaper option.

“Because we are a new hospital we have a lot of doctors coming from the US and England. They are prescribing new and expensive drugs that are not readily available in Jordan,” says Dr. Bataineh.

“One of the advantages of the new system is that it can warn them that the drug is not in store, or is one that we don’t carry it. However, it doesn’t just leave it at that, it gives them a suggestion. This saves time compared to written prescriptions going backwards and forwards,” he explains.

By eliminating the physical aspect of prescribing drugs and generating reports, the hospital has reduced the amount of storage space it requires for printing supplies, as well as reducing its costs. The Medicom system has further impacted the hospital’s bottom line by helping it keep track of patients’ insurance status. This has been achieved by integrating the software with KAUH’s Oracle Financials app.

“We are a kind of private hospital so the financial aspect of it is very important… Without computers it was very difficult for us to determine whether or not an insurance company covered the patient. However, we now have a database of all our patients so we know that they are covered,” Dr. Bataineh explains.

Moving forward, the Jordanian hospital plans to integrate its healthcare system and Oracle back office applications yet further. Topping the agenda is closer links between the Medicom inventory and Oracle procurement modules, as this will bring greater automation and reduce the cost associated with purchasing.

When complete, the combined Medicom and Oracle solution will provide the Jordanian hospital with a massive clinical data repository that will allow it to accelerate information access and improve patient care yet further.

As Dr. Bataineh says, “KAUH is ushering in a new era of healthcare and creating an environment that is patient centric, knowledge driven… and delivers the highest levels of efficiency and effectiveness possible.”||**||

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