eMR envy: Western Sydney leads the way in digital health

The WSLHD eMR and eMeds project teams.

Detecting life-threatening complications is getting easier and quicker thanks to digital upgrades across Western Sydney Local Health District.

Moving from paper to electronic medical records (eMR) is now in full swing across the health district and health care is improving as a result.

Benefits include the district’s emergency departments now having access to an Australian-first alert system for sepsis; a potentially deadly infection complication.

WSLHD’s eMR Enhance team built and implemented the ‘First Warning’ system last year, which uses a computer algorithm to automatically scan ED patient data and immediately alert doctors when someone may be suffering from sepsis.

Auburn Hospital was the first in the district to roll-out eMR in November 2018, and since then the hospital has seen a 50% improvement in recording patient allergies and a 25% improvement in recording prescribed medications.

Another district improvement is a threefold increase in the completion of resuscitation plans, ensuring patients have their say about critical care.

Western Sydney was the first district in NSW to implement eMR upgrades that have improved patient tracking, workflow documentation and patient discharge, ensuring key health information isn’t missed at any stage in a patient’s health journey.

For patients receiving surgery, the new electronic anaesthetic records improves visibility of real-time vital signs, medications and fluids.

The Digital Health Clinical Program team recently shared these and more achievements with other health districts and private providers at the annual Cerner Asia Pacific Regional User Group conference.

WSLHD chief digital health officer Barry Mather said the program has set in place a foundation for improving patient safety through improved access to patient information.

“It has been achieved in a relatively short timeframe through the exceptional efforts of the program team and the willingness of staff to adopt the changes,” Barry said.

“This is the first time such an extensive digital rollout has been achieved within these timeframes in health in Australia, surprising many outside the district. I am extremely proud of the team.”

WSLHD chief medical information officer A/Prof Naren Gunja said the feedback from the conference is that every local health district now wants an eMR Enhance team.