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Canterbury builds paper-light hospitals

Canterbury builds paper-light hospitals

Date: 30 July 2018

Two new hospital buildings due to open in Christchurch over the coming year have been designed not to take the usual weight of paper as patient files will be kept online.

Canterbury District Health Board is opening a new digital-ready Outpatients facility this November and an Acute Services building on the Christchurch Hospital campus in 2019.

CDHB chief digital officer Stella Ward says these buildings have been architecturally designed to be paper light. This means the foundations will not support the weight of the large amount of paper that would usually be used in a New Zealand hospital.

“If we didn’t achieve this paper-light goal, the building would’ve had to be structurally different because we would have the weight of the paper and the storage of that paper to deal and we haven’t actually got room for it,” Ward explains.

Canterbury DHB is working to digitise as many forms and processes before the new facilities open, so they are electronic before the move.

“There’s a lot of work to determine how the paper processes have supported the patient flow and how we need to reorient ourselves around using digital systems and how to build and develop these systems,” she says.

Innovations such as the Cortex care coordination app and the Celo secure messaging app have come out of this work.

Ward says digitising medical records saves the cost of transporting paper notes around the city and means slimmer hospital trolleys as they will no longer need to carry a paper file for every patient.

It also ensures clinicians have the information they need accessible to them online, rather than having to chase it in paper format.

The CDHB’s vision includes technology for patients. This means ensuring screens can be used for both displaying patient data and information as well as for entertainment. Also, there is sufficient wi-fi to support patients being able to use their own devices for free.

The digital experience will also include self-check-in kiosks and digital screens directing people where to go.

“The whole process should be more streamlined for patients,” says Ward.

She imagines a future where people will get their appointment via text, including better information about what they are going to hospital for and who they will see. If there is a delay, they could get a text telling them when the service is ready to see them.

“We will also see development of apps that support patients navigating how to get there and where’s the best place to park. It’s all part of our vision in terms of supporting people to be able to take care of themselves,” she says.

“Our vision is an integrated health system supported by an integrated information system.”

Read more about CDHB’s digitisation work in Features.


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