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Waitematā develops electronic surgical implant tracking system

Monday, 27 July 2020  
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Return to home page editor Rebecca McBeth


Surgical implants used at North Shore Hospital are being electronically tracked, meaning patients can be quickly told if there is a product recall.
Waitematā DHB’s Institute for Innovation and Improvement (i3) developed a system to record and store the bar codes of implants used by surgeons in a patient’s electronic health record, replacing a costly and time-consuming paper-based system.   

More than 5,000 implants have been tracked since it was launched in August last year. 
Director of i3 Penny Andrew says the system was developed following the scandal involving surgical mesh that caused complications for women worldwide and highlighted the need for surgical implant registries. 

In response, the Ministry of Health recommended all DHBs create a local registry and it is looking at developing a national registry or linking local registries.

Andrew says it can take months to identify patients with an implant using paper registries and the DHB looked at proprietary electronic systems but found these were very expensive.

So the i3 team came up with a low-cost alternative using barcode scanners, which it bought for around $8000, as about 90 percent of implants have a barcode. 

Mustafa Shaabany, i3 Project Manager, says the tracking system is a customisation of existing systems used at Waitematā, including its patient management system and Clinical Portal. Several DHBs use the same IT systems and therefore could easily adopt the system.
“As other DHBs and organisations build local implant registries these could be linked to a national platform, or made visible to other DHBs by linking our electronic health record systems,” he says.

The new system also means that if patients present to hospital with complications from an implant, this can be identified faster as clinicians can see via a tab in the patient’s electronic clinical record that they have an implant.
“The system could be used to improve outcomes for future patients by linking implant data to Patient Reported Outcome Measures,” says Shaabany. 

“PROMS are surveys of quality of life and at Waitematā DHB we have developed an electronic system to collect PROMs information from patients and show the results in the patient’s electronic health record.” 

Shaabany says collecting this information before and after a patient’s implant surgery will help surgeons understand whether implants are improving patient’s lives, what patients would benefit from implant surgery, when is the best time to have surgery, and what types of implants have the best outcomes.


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


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