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New Zealand Blood Service benefits from $8m investment in new IT

Monday, 14 May 2018  
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eHealthNews editor Rebecca McBeth



A new IT system for New Zealand’s blood banks means patient files are available digitally nationwide and allows for innovations such as smart fridges to be trialled.


The $8 million project by the New Zealand Blood Service took more than two years of planning before eTraceline went live at 37 blood bank sites over the weekend of 1–3 September 2017.


Previously, a system called eProgesa was used to track the donor and manufacturing services of NZBS, as well as blood banking.


However, this is not going to be developed further for blood banks and so NZBS made the decision to change to eTraceline, from the same vendor MAK-SYSTEM, which is specifically developed for blood banks.


NZBS chief information officer Tony Carpinter says eTraceline brings enhancements to the service straight away and allows for future developments such as smart fridges.


eTraceline Plus Team leader Kathy Clark says the new system means that wherever a clinician is in the country, they can view the same patient information held electronically on the system.


This is important as patients often move from more rural to main centres for procedures and their patient file holds records of all their tests, special requirements and history.


“It’s important that this information is accessible anywhere as it’s an important feature of New Zealand that we do have a national blood service that covers the whole country,” says Clark.


Carpinter says migrating all the patient files from eProgresa into the new system took around 18 months and was complicated by the fact that some patients appeared in different databases.


Benefits of the new system include electronic stock ordering, which was previously done via fax. An electronic dashboard at NZBS now shows incoming orders and their status so the service can ensure they are filled.


NZBS is also doing a “low-tech pilot” of a smart fridge at MercyAscot in June, says Carpinter.


Smart fridges are located in operating theatres, but under the control of the blood banks to ensure the right blood products are available at the point of need and therefore used more efficiently.


Clark says the eTraceline implementation was a huge change management task involving training and workshops, online help and a 24/7 helpline during go-live.


More than 560 staff who work in New Zealand’s blood banks were trained and the system has now become embedded into their day-to-day business, she says.


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