State’s biggest digital transformation goes live at Westmead

ED nurse Tiffany Chevell, chief medical information officer Dr Naren Gunja, ED pharmacist Christopher Hidayat and ED advanced trainee James Tadros were all smiles after the successful launch on Tuesday morning.

Every patient that entered Westmead Hospital’s emergency department this week was part of a new era – though they wouldn’t have known it.

At 9am on Tuesday, one of the state’s busiest EDs went live with electronic medication management (eMeds), replacing paper records for the majority of treatments and marking the 100th implementation of the state-of-the-art system across NSW Health.

Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) chief medical information officer, Dr Naren Gunja, said earlier roll-outs at Auburn and Blacktown hospitals over the past two years had helped Westmead Hospital plan for this moment.

“Westmead Hospital is part of one of the biggest digital transformations in Australia,” Dr Gunja said.

“This technology is about improving patient care and medication safety, which is a key priority. It’s also getting us ready for further technological advancements that will come with the Westmead redevelopment.”

WSLHD chief digital health officer, Barry Mather, said the success of the launch, in partnership with eHealth NSW, was the culmination of a three-year project to realise a major milestone in the district’s Digital Health vision.

“This initiative is a significant contributor to enhancing safer patient care within Western Sydney LHD and aligns us with functionality at other NSW Health hospitals,” he said.

The move from paper to electronic records allows for improved patient safety and clinical quality in several areas, including removing transcription errors and flagging potential medication clashes or allergies.

Other elements of Westmead Hospital’s upgrade included the initial roll-out of the electronic medical record (EMR) in the wards, and electronic anaesthesia and surgical patient tracking in operating theatres.

Change will continue over the coming weeks in other Westmead Hospital departments including an electronic cardiology system.

The implementation of eMeds across NSW Health continues apace, with plans for a further 102 hospitals to go live by June 2020.

This was made possible by the 2017/18 State Budget’s investment in digital health, which allocated $236 million towards extending the eMeds roll-out across the State’s public hospitals.

eMeds is an additional function of NSW Health’s electronic medical record and provides a complete, real-time digital picture of patient medications as they are prescribed, reviewed, dispensed and administered in hospitals.