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Peninsula Health receives Austalia's Don Walker Award for Effectiveness in Healthcare Delivery

Orion Health : 19 December, 2007  (New Product)
Peninsula Health (PH), an outer Melbourne metropolitan health service, has been awarded the 2007 Don Walker Award for Effectiveness in Healthcare Delivery by the Health Informatics Society of Australia (HISA).
PH received the award based on an innovative project to improve continuity of patient care using e-Discharge and e-Prescribing. The award acknowledged that the e-Discharge and e-Prescribing initiatives have demonstrated a quantifiable impact on the improvement of patient outcomes through the use of innovative IT solutions.

'Australia is one of the many countries emphasizing the use of technology to reduce medical errors and streamline communications between physicians for more coordinated care and fewer ambulatory admissions,' said Ian McCrae, Orion Health Chief Executive Officer.

'Peninsula Health's team has implemented innovative e-prescribing and e-health solutions to improve patient care. We're proud to have such solutions be based on Orion Health technology.'

Like many Australian healthcare organizations, information sharing at Peninsula Health had historically been paper-based and ineffective. A survey conducted by PH and the Mornington Peninsula Division of GPs in 2000 revealed only 16 percent of the GP respondents had received a patient discharge summary within three days of the patient's discharge. Many respondents had received discharge summaries up to three months post-discharge. Of the discharge summaries that had been received only 27 percent were legible.

The aims of the project were to improve the quality of discharge prescribing and reduce the opportunities for medication errors through the use of e-Prescribing. PH also hoped to improve the continuum of care between acute and primary care by providing a legible and accurate medication list via the use of e-Discharge Summaries. The final goal of the programme was to enhance the quality, legibility and timeliness of discharge information communicated to primary care practitioners to reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions.

Efforts to improve the continuity of the patient care journey from acute care settings to primary care have increasingly emphasised the role of information technology.
The need to avoid medical errors, and prevent unnecessary hospital readmissions through enhanced communications with General Practitioners (GPs) has been well documented.

The Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Health Care has recommended the use of e-Prescribing coupled with the accurate transfer of information between hospital and community settings to reduce medication incidents. These recommendations are supported by other national health authorities. More than half of preventable medication incidents are associated with prescribing errors. A number of Australian controlled studies have indicated the provision of medication summaries to patients and their GPs improves patient outcomes and reduces medication incident.

Poor communication between hospitals and GPs has been identified as an obstacle to effective integrated health care. A number of authors have also highlighted the serious limitations of our current system of handwritten discharge summaries, while others have suggested discharge summaries of inadequate quality may have serious impacts on subsequent patient care. The Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Health Care studies suggest “Communication from hospitals to GPs are in an unacceptable state, and to continue with the current system of discharge summaries appears futile”.

Citing high error rates (36.4 percent) and low rates of discharge receipt (27.1 percent) the researchers suggest resources currently being invested in this inefficient system would be better spent in determining methods of improving communication.

The award was presented by the Health Informatics Society of Australia, in the spirit of Australia's first informatics pioneer, Don Walker, the first Doctor in Australia to introduce a computer into his practice. The award acknowledged that the e-Discharge and e-Prescribing initiatives have demonstrated a quantifiable impact on the improvement of patient outcomes through the use of innovative IT solutions.
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