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John Hunter Hospital enhances ICU patient care with eRIC

John Hunter Hospital in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) is the 10th intensive care unit (ICU) in the state to implement the Electronic Record for Intensive Care (eRIC) clinical information system. 

First deployed at Coffs Harbour Health Campus in June 2017 after a pilot test at Port Macquarie Base Hospital in October 2016, the eRIC is intended to improve decision-making and patient outcomes in all 43 New South Wales ICUs.

Often the most data-driven aspect of hospital operations due to the need for real-time monitoring and highly time-sensitive decision-making, ICU operations were formerly handled via paper forms. The need to file paper forms and convey them between medical personnel resulted in problems such as double handling of documentation, and information written on paper forms was also prone to misinterpretation. The introduction of the eRIC system at John Hunter Hospital will not only allow medical personnel to capture real-time data and enhance information availability, but also improve clinical decision-making and patient care.

Where data availability is concerned, eRIC electronically integrates ICU patient data from multiple devices and reformats the collected data into highly accessible graphs that reveal long-term patient insights. 

"The capturing of more frequent electronic data will enable us to better understand a patient’s physiology and their response to therapy,” said Dr Ken Havill, Director of John Hunter Hospital’s ICU." 

“Being able to easily locate all patient information and observe trends over longer periods, as well as reformatting data in a graphical view, is a great support to clinical decision-making. ”

In addition to configurable patient information that allow for customisable insights, the eRIC system will also, upon eventual implementation in all 43 NSW ICUs,  serve as a standardised practice within all ICUs in the state. The state-wide implementation of the eRIC will not only allow for clearer benchmarking, but also allow ICUs to communicate patient information efficiently between each other.  

“We can now observe patients in other ICUs within the Hunter New England Local Health District whom we are assessing for transfer,” said Dr Havill. By providing a common platform for data sharing and communication, the eRIC will facilitate better ICU service delivery and deliver better patient outcomes.

Patients are not the only ones to benefit from the eRIC system; by doing away with the need to file paper forms, the eRIC system also allows nurses to be at patients’ bedsides longer. The consolidation of all information into a single digital location, coupled with configurable graphs that allow for customisable insights, mean that nurses will be able to attend to patients while monitoring and recording patient status at the same time.

“It’s hugely beneficial to have everything we need in one digital location, rather than try to manage lots of paper forms,” said Ms Heather Chislett, a Nurse Unit Manager at John Hunter Hospital. “The patient information can be graphed to look at trends, which further supports the care of ICU patients. And all of this occurs while nurses are at the bedside of the patient.”

The benefits of the eRIC system also go beyond patient safety, administrative efficiency and medical efficacy — with access to a vast amount pf real-time patient data, Ms Chislett expects that the eRIC will also help facilitate ICU research.

“The data that is collected and potential research undertaken will help nurses to identify trends. Previously the research team needed to review our paper charts to facilitate research.”

The state-wide roll-out of the eRIC system will continue on a phase-by-phase basis, with the next deployment of the eRIC at Wollongong Hospital scheduled on 18th June.

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