A junior doctor has shared his own experience of having worked under two completely different digital patient records systems, and how patients across Teesside are reaping the benefits.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust was traditionally heavily reliant on paper-based patient medical notes and a record keeping automation system called PAS (patient administration system). A desire to be more digitally forward thinking saw the implementation of TrakCare; an electronic patient records system developed by international and national digital health care leaders – InterSystems, back in 2015.
Registrar Luke Ventress, shared his experience of the old decommissioned PAS system, and how the newest electronic prescribing administration (EPMA) module, on the Trust’s TrakCare electronic patient records system, has completely transformed the way he works.
‘It was an outdated system’
The first time Luke worked at the Trust, he was a fresh-faced F1 doctor. Reflecting on that time, he says he was struck by how differently patient records were managed. He explains: “The way we manage and access patient information has massively changed since the first time I worked at the University Hospital of North Tees.
“The old PAS system was poor compared to what we have now, it offered little information beyond where patients’ paper medical notes were filed. The notes themselves where often hard to track down and this could slow down ward rounds, discharges and could sometimes be missing key information and drug kardex’s – all vital for effectively treating your patient.”
It’s now a constantly evolving and improving system
By September of this year, Luke was welcomed back to the Trust following some time working at The James Cook University Hospital.
This time around, it was a huge change from the PAS system and the paper-based systems he had used in the past. Luke said: “I’ve seen a massive change in working with the new TrakCare system and the EPMA module is excellent.
“Everything is quicker. A patient’s drug kardex can be found at the click of a button and prescribing their medication can all be done on the one system.
“The new TrakCare EPMA module also has a built in safety net – it offers prescribing alerts, which makes me think more about what I’m prescribing and in what quantity. It reduces waste, but also safeguards my patients.”
What difference will it make?
Luke is optimistic that especially when working on call or on night shifts, the new system has made looking after multiple wards and patients much easier.
He continues: “I can more effectively utilise my time. Before the EPMA system, I would have to manually walk to each ward when a request for patient medication came in. Now I can do this remotely from wherever I am.
“Pharmacy will receive the request sooner and a patient’s prescription can be fulfilled much faster.
“This also comes in to play when discharging a patient, it’s a much faster process filling in a digital form that can help to intelligently pre-fill certain information, than when I used to have to do everything by hand. It’s good to know that we can ensure patients get home in a timely manner, rather than being sat waiting for their prescriptions.
“Ultimately, it just makes much more sense when I compare it to my time using more paper-based systems. TrakCare and the EPMA module has made it so much easier to ensure that I can spend more time actively treating and caring for my patients, rather than being sat in a doctor’s office hidden under piles of paperwork.”
Futureproofing electronic patient records
The latest electronic prescribing administration (EPMA) module is one of many planned updates to the Trust’s electronic patient record system.
Digital Programme Project Manager Marie Graham explained: “Digitising the way we do things has been an ongoing but worthwhile process. Alongside safeguarding our patients and doctors, the EPMA module has allowed us to effectively audit and understand how we use medication throughout the hospital.
“The system speeds up the handover of patient information from admission to discharge. It ensures our clinicians have the vital information they need at their fingertips to allow them to make timely decisions on patient care.
“We’re already working towards new modules to integrate into the system that will improve patient care. And we’re looking forward to working towards releasing the redesigned theatre functionality, enhanced eObservation module, together with a new IV infusion module in the very near future.”