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Christchurch Hospital uses Cortex for clinical notes

Monday, 9 December 2019  
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Picture:  Christchurch Hospital nurses using Cortex editor Rebecca McBeth


Cortex is being used to generate more than 11,000 electronic clinical notes every week at Christchurch Hospital.


Alistair Rumball-Smith, co-founder of Sense Medical which developed Cortex with Canterbury District Health Board, says there are more than 2000 unique monthly users actively using the care coordination platform across the DHB.


Cortex has been rolled out to 14 departments at Christchurch Hospital that are all moving to the new Hagley site next year and the final few are being onboarded.


Each department uses Cortex Designer to design their own forms and adapt the system to its own workflows.


Rumball-Smith says having end user ownership of the platform is key to its high uptake and use.


“This isn’t a top down methodology, it’s clinician driven with allied health, nursing and medical all involved in the process of designing their workflows,” he says.


Clinical lead for the Cortex development Chris Rumball says clinicians use iPhones or iPads to access the app to create and read clinical notes, send tasks and communicate with their teams.


It is also used to access information at the point of care such as eObservations and radiology results.


“A lot of clinicians won’t go to a desktop at all anymore, as everything’s done on their device they carry with them during the day,” he tells


“Everything’s visible so staff tend to watch to see what’s going on with their patients.”


Electronic nursing clinical care plans are also being implemented and are already live in general surgery and paediatrics.


These “living documents” fully replace the paper care plans nurses were having to fill out every shift with an updatable document at the top of the Cortex timeline. The functionality also provides shift-based snapshots.


“We’re continuing to roll this out and that’s when we get complete digitisation in some departments,” Rumball says.


Cortex Clinical Documents are generating about 18 million query-able clinical data points a year.


Rumball-Smith says, “That’s a huge amount of data that can now be fed back to decision support, to create dashboards to see what’s happening in those workflows.”


“Having data in real-time is new and novel. The next step is discovering what that means to transform into adjusting business processes.”


A web view has also gone live, allowing any CDHB Health Connect South user to view Cortex notes in a patient context in HCS under a Cortex tab.


“This expands access to Cortex to anyone with access to HCS and means they can search by date and note type and see the exact same rendering of the note,” Rumball-Smith says.


More than 2000 notes a day are being viewed via the web.


Rumball-Smith says plans for next year include increasing the use of FHIR resources across the platform to allow data to be edited in real time and reflected across different parts of the patient’s care, as well as enabling web-based editing of Cortex Clinical Documents.


If you would like to provide feedback on this news story please contact the editor Rebecca McBeth.


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