How is Northern Health measuring EMR benefits

Northern Health’s decision to implement an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) promises numerous benefits for clinicians and patients. While these benefits may not be immediately apparent during the initial stages of implementation, Northern Health is confident that as they transition to this change, we will start seeing the benefits.

It is anticipated that fewer tests will be performed, medication errors will be reduced, and patients will move quicker through the emergency department, with fewer re-presentations. Being able to see patient documentation and orders from any computer, anywhere, in near real-time, will make providing patient care quicker, safer and more efficient.

Northern Health’s Benefits Realisation plan, initiated in 2020, marks the beginning of a meticulous journey to measure and evaluate the impact and benefit of implementing an EMR.

Daniella Chapkoun, Nursing Informatics Officer and Benefits Analyst, is leading the EMR benefits program at Northern Health.

In developing the Northern Health benefits, Ms Chapkoun has reviewed the EMR literature and benchmarked with other Victorian and Australian hospitals. Northern Health’s tailored benefit realisation plan encompasses 15 expected benefits, primarily focused on enhancing consumer experience and outcomes and clinician efficiency.

One exciting part of the benefits program is a study on time efficiency for nurses, medical, and pharmacy staff using a pre-study and post-study design methodology. During the study, the team observed 180 hours of clinical practice using the WOMAT observational tool to assess the average time required to complete regular tasks before the implantation of the EMR, as well as 12 months after the implementation of the EMR. This comprehensive observation included documenting clinicians’ average time spent on clinical tasks, documentation, medication rounds and reviews. By collecting this data, Northern Health aims to gain valuable insights into the impact of EMR systems on workflow efficiency and clinical practice.

Ms Chapkoun expressed her anticipation for publishing their findings, aiming to demonstrate how implementing an EMR system can increase time spent with patients rather than being occupied with paperwork. She emphasised the scarcity of Australian literature on the implementation of an EMR system of this magnitude.

“As one of the last major metropolitan hospitals to undergo such a significant transition, Northern Health has a unique opportunity to measure the before, and after, effects of the implementation.  We are eager to contribute our valuable insights to the Digital Health industry, furthering our collective understanding and advancement of healthcare practices,” said Ms Chapkoun.

She also extended her gratitude to Trish Aldridge, EMR Director, and Anthony Gust, Executive Director of Digital Health, for supporting the benefits program and facilitating the procurement of the WOMBAT observational tool. “Their assistance has been instrumental in ensuring the success of the study.”

For more information on EMR benefits, click here.

Featured image: Daniella Chapkoun, Nursing Informatics Officer and Benefits Analyst