Local News

IT Collapse Causes Hospital Staff To Go Back To Basics

Queensland's new electronic medical record system has collapsed, causing issues at hospitals on the Sunshine Coast and in Townsville. 

Staff were forced to switch to paper charts, causing patient wait times to blow out.

The issue was with the Integrated Electronic Medical Record (ieMR) system.

A Queensland Health spokesperson said "There was a planned vendor upgrade on Tuesday afternoon to the system and intermittent login issues were experienced when the patch was deployed". 

They said "The issue was resolved Tuesday afternoon".  

"Standard contingency plans were enacted and this ensured there was no impact on patient safety during this time.

"Queenslanders can trust that we have robust protocols in place to ensure our contingency and risk procedures work" the statement concluded.  

The ieMR rollout to Metro North and Darling Downs hospital and health services has been delayed until 2021.

Kieran Keyes, Chief Executive, Townsville Hospital and Health Service also responded saying the Townsville Hospital experienced intermittent access to the integrated electronic Medical Record (ieMR) from noon until 5.30pm on 10 September as part of a state-wide outage.

In July and August, thousands of North Queenslanders who have presented to our emergency department, had an operation or were admitted to hospital have benefited from our digital hospital.

Downtime procedures were put in place on 10 September which allowed clinicians to continue to access patient information. Any new treatment information was recorded on paper and updated once full function to ieMR was restored.

The Townsville Hospital emergency department had 241 presentations on 10 September. While the partial outage did cause patients to be seen a little slower, our hardworking frontline clinicians did an excellent job in continuing to deliver appropriate care.

It is important to note that paper isn’t perfect. It is vital for any major business to keep up with technology to deliver a modern and contemporary service.

In 2019, it is no longer appropriate that people’s medical records are written on paper and stored in boxes upon rows upon rows of shelves within storage sheds. In Townsville, we have 670,000 paper-based medical records.

Under the previous paper-based system, when a patient presented to our hospital we would dispatch a staff member to the storage shed or the records department, have them retrieve the record and return it to our doctors.

Not taking advantage of technology to improve this process is a wasted opportunity which is why we have undertaken the monumental change of becoming a digital hospital. A fully digital hospital sees a patient’s medical record stored, updated and accessed in real-time, electronically by clinicians at the bedside.

Changing the way we’ve always operated while continuing to run a $1 billion a year business that provides healthcare to members of our community in need has been a challenge.

We’ve been working closely with our clinicians and frontline staff to ensure these changes can be done safely while continuing to meet the growing health demands of our community.

By Michelle Price