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Better Access To Clinical Information

Better Access To Clinical Information For New Zealand Hospitals

Many New Zealand hospitals will have improved access to medical and health literature databases following the formation of a consortium led by librarians at the Southland and Hawkes Bay District Health Boards and the Ministry of Health.

The New Zealand Hospitals Database Consortium commenced on 1 July. Twelve District Health Boards, the privately-owned Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Rotorua, and the Ministry of Health are members.

The Consortium provides access to health science databases for staff employed by the fourteen institutions. Staff employed by Consortium members will now be able to work from their library, their desktop, or a remote location to obtain information for quality patient care.

OVID Technologies, a specialist international supplier of clinical information databases has been contracted to supply four key databases - Medline, CINAHL (nursing and allied health literature), PsycINFO, and Evidence Based Medicine Reviews, a group of databases which includes the Cochrane database of reviews.

OVID is used by both New Zealand schools of medicine which means it is already familiar to many health professionals. Its search engine and intuitive interface are widely regarded as being among the world's best.

Southland District Health Board Chief Executive Officer Mary Bonner said the consortium approach will enable access to more databases at a significantly lower price than would have been possible by each organisation acting alone.

"The concept for the Consortium originated at grassroots level and demonstrates that initiatives taken at this level can develop a national momentum and have the potential to make a difference in the health system."

Hawkes Bay District Health Board Chief Executive Officer Mark Flowers said the most difficult issue the Database Consortium faced was the coordination of purchase by many organisations because they were working with various databases and financial situations.

"The DHB's found a way through this, with the support and commitment of their institutions' management, the Ministry of Health, and the successful supplier. A key factor for success was the current environment that encourages cooperation and collaboration."

For the first time mental health staff outside of the main centres will have access to PsycINFO. The Ministry of Health contributed financially to this.

Ministry of Health Director General Dr Karen Poutasi said the Ministry was pleased to support the District Health Board librarians' proposal.

"The collaborative approach the health librarians brought to this project is a good example of what can be achieved by health care organisations bringing together their collective wisdom, experience, and in this case, their purchasing power."

"In particular, ready access to the mental health literature will help staff in hospitals, specialised clinics, and the community to keep informed and up to date with developments in the diagnosis and care of people with mental health needs," said Dr Poutasi.

The Southland District Health Board has purchased additional supply for general practitioners in their area, a first for the country.

"Southland general practitioners often work in both geographic and professional isolation and we hope that giving them desktop access to these databases will make their job a little easier," said Mrs Bonner.

"A dream for the future is these databases is full text at the click of a button on the desktop of every health professional."

ENDS


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