St James’s Hospital reached an important milestone in the digital journey of Irish medicines over the weekend; all inpatient interactions which were previously recorded on paper have been digitised and will now be recorded electronically.
Named ‘Project Oak’, in reference to the paper that will be saved by going digital, a multi-disciplinary team has spent nearly three years planning for the changeover. The largest-scale digitisation of inpatient records in an Irish hospital to date, every inpatient speciality and department at St James’s Hospital went live over the weekend of Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th October in a transition that involved the training of 2,400 staff members over 21,000 hours with the new enhanced functionality of Cerner Millennium, the hospital’s electronic patient record (EPR) system.
Lorcan Birthistle, CEO St James’s Hospital said: “St James’s, as the largest acute hospital in the country, has a leadership responsibility and it is a landmark development that we moved to digital inpatient records this weekend. The electronic patient record system will help us to care for patients more effectively, resulting in patients being diagnosed and treated more promptly. We have spent many years planning for the changeover to ensure a smooth transition with minimal disruption to patients. We are entering a new phase of healthcare in St James’s and in Ireland, and we are determined that our patients will benefit from these advances in technology”.
Those attending the hospital as inpatients are promised a more efficient experience as a result of this new undertaking. Each patient’s EPR will include medical and nursing assessments, medical history, medications, allergies, laboratory test results, radiology images, and more.
Dr. Gráinne Courtney, Chief Clinical Information Officer, St James’s Hospital said: “We are still in the early stages of this major change, but careful planning has ensured that patient care has not been disrupted significantly over the weekend…Over the course of the coming months and years we anticipate this will translate into shorter wait times and hospital stays”.
St James’s Hospital received significant funding from the HSE for this digitisation project. Professor Martin Curley, Chief Information Officer, HSE commented: “The launch of the electronic patient record system at St. James’s Hospital is a milestone moment in the rollout of digitisation across the Irish healthcare sector. As the largest acute hospital in the country, St. James’s is a lighthouse example for other hospitals and healthcare providers who are planning for digitisation, demonstrating how innovation and change can be implemented on a wide scale. Moving on from paper records brings significant benefits to patient experience, and efficiencies for staff and hospital resources. Digitisation is a key component in the reform of health and social care services, and I sincerely welcome the changeover at St James’s Hospital”.