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NZNI conference provides insight into patient engagement and EHR projects

Friday, 1 December 2017  
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The Ministry of Health’s chief nurse opened this year’s NZ Nursing Informatics conference by asking the question: “how can nursing support the use of technology to ensure the ongoing success of the health system?”


Dr Jane O’Malley said that central to this ongoing success is the move towards patient-centred care, with health professionals standing “shoulder to shoulder” with patients.


Around 150 delegates attended the NZNI conference held in Rotorua on November 2.


Jane told delegates that while the health system is good at identifying problems and knowing where it should be going, the reality is that “change is really hard”.


“How do we prepare ourselves so we’re able to adapt to a predictable or unimagined future and what will you inspire and challenge others, including your leaders, to do?” she asked.


Jane argued that there needs to be a redefinition of the partnership between informed consumers and services and practitioners, in order to combine expert clinical knowledge with expert personal knowledge.


This theme of patients participating more in their healthcare was further developed by the conference’s final keynote speaker, Dave deBronkart, who wrapped up the busy day with a session on patient engagement.


Known as e-Patient Dave, his outlook on the traditional role of patients and healthcare professionals drastically changed after he was diagnosed in January 2007 with late stage kidney cancer. His prognosis was grim with a median survival rate of just 24 weeks.


However, his last treatment was in July of that year and by September he had beaten the disease. He credits his ability to research his condition and connect with other patients online as key to his survival.


Dave spoke to the NZNI delegates about the benefits of informing and engaging patients to make them true partners in their healthcare.


“When you almost die, but survive and figure out how the people who helped you survive could have a better life, it makes you passionate,” he said.


Dave describes e-patients as ‘equipped, engaged, empowered and enabled’. While not all patients want to be these things, those that do should be encouraged as it can improve their health outcomes and make clinicians’ lives easier.


“Some patients just want someone to take care of them and that’s fine. But if a patient says, ‘how can I help?’ we should find a way to let them help and not say ‘shut up and go back to bed’,” said Dave.


The conference also focussed on the implementation of electronic health records. Carey Campbell, Southern Cross Hospitals’ chief nurse advisor, shared her experience of implementing Orion’s Clinical Workflow Suite across ten hospitals over 18 months.


The organisation used extensive training and hands-on support at go-lives to overcome some nurses’ fears about moving from paper to electronic processes.


Amanda Malu, chief executive of Plunket, also spoke about her organisation’s Electronic Personal Health Record project, saying that since December 2016, all Plunket nurses have exchanged their pen and paper for a tablet computer.


“We are yet to recognise all the benefits of shifting to tablet and app, but we are already using the data to improve services,” she told conference delegates.


Plunket has 63,000 enrolled patients in its electronic records and is using this large data set to identify trends, areas of excellence and areas of need.


“It gives incredible insight into how we are performing in real-time. We are in a much more powerful position to have conversations about allocation of resource and funding with data to back it up,” said Amanda.


The organisation can now see at a glance how it is achieving against set targets, compare region to region or drill down to a granular level to see a specific nurse’s workload.


“Staff throughout the organisation can use data in different ways to improve how we plan and deliver care,” she said.


Plunket also runs Facebook live chats and started a parenting podcast; the first of which shot to number one on the NZ podcast charts.


“We want to be around for the next 110 years and everything we are doing now is geared to make that happen,” Amanda told the NZNI conference.

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