New Zealand is the leading force in shared EMR implementation

Would similar strategy be possible in Europe?
By Dillan Yogendra
11:57 AM

Canterbury in particular offers an ideal example to corroborate the claim that healthcare IT integration works best if accompanied by an integrated overall approach to medical care, as reported in HIMSS Insights.

Plans were already in place to install a centralized shared medical record that could be accessed from information systems of care providers, hospitals, and the community nursing agency but progress was slow. Then came February 2011 and New Zealand experienced one of the worst earthquakes in generations – many general practitioner (GP) paper-based archives were either lost or temporarily unavailable but Canterbury hospital’s electronic documentation remained accessible all the way through.

Within months of the earthquake contracts for a centralized data repository were signed between Canterbury District Health Board and a New-Zealand-based software development company. The electronic shared care record view (eSCRV) was designed, and implementation began in 2012.

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Step 1 – connecting regional hospitals to the eSCRV

Step 2 – introducing access to 110 pharmacies

Step 3 – bringing the 300 GPs and the community nursing agency online

Nigel Millar, Chief Medical Officer, Canterbury District Health Board, commented: “We will be ready with this first phase of the project by the middle of 2013.” Currently eSCTV is in its second phase, which brings, among other things, a patient access portal so that care providers and citizens can access their data directly.

The District Health Board could also give access to other professional groups.  Miller said:  “The ambulance [service], for example, is very interested. And we also get some pressure from specialists in private practice who work outside of the state-owned healthcare system. They are increasingly being asked by their patients why they cannot access the data that every normal GP can access.”

Would something like this be possible across Europe? Certainly, Denmark for example already has an infrastructure in place similar to that in New Zealand and a transition could be instigated relatively easily; but an option with a higher level privacy policy in place utilizing smartcards or passwords could also be an option elsewhere.

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