South Okanagan General Hospital is the first Interior Health location to install a system linking their database into PharmaNet. File photo

New technology improves patient safety

Interior Health hospitals strengthen patient medication histories

South Okanagan General Hospital is trying out something new, the first to deploy a system linking provincial prescription records to the hospital’s systems.

Sara Evans, the acute care manager at SOGH, said it is something the staff in Oliver have been anxious to have for quite a while.

The MedHx technology enables physicians, nurses, and pharmacists to electronically retrieve patient medication histories from PharmaNet, B.C.’s province-wide prescription network, and download the information directly into the hospital’s MEDITECH.

Evans said that six months ago, nurses would go to a computer and print out the list of medications from PharmaNet prescribed to you by your family doctor. Then they would review the list with the patient, before taking it back to a computer and integrate it into the hospital’s system.

Q”The two computer systems don’t talk,” said Evans. “There is a risk there with a transcription error. It is inefficient for the nurses to be doing that.”

The new system eliminates that. The MedHx system brings the medication list over and, using a computer at the bedside, the nurse can see what the patient is taking and verify whether or not it is accurate.

“It just becomes much safer,” said Evans, adding it is not the first time SOGH embraced new technology.

“Oliver Hospital, the inpatient side, was the first in Canada to have a fully electronic patient chart. In our emergency room, as soon as someone is admitted, the electronic processes starts,” she said, noting SOGH is still the only unit in Interior Health to have a fully electronic chart. “We’ve been leaders in tech in Canada for more than 10 years.”

Though these new technologies aid the process, the human element is still vital.

“We never rely completely on what is in the database. There is no substitute for the interviewing skills of the nurse,” said Evans, adding they also look at other sources, like any medications the patient brings with them, or a patient’s list.

“It’s just another tool we use to get the best possible medication history.”

Evans said there are some benefits to being a smaller unit when you want to try out something new, like the MedHx pilot project.

“We can work out the kinks and then it can be spread to larger sites,” she said. “We have some very talented people working at our site that have a passion for this type of work, and that includes our physicians.”

South Okanagan General is the first of 22 hospitals in the Interior Health Authority to have the MedHx system installed. Over the rest of 2018, IH will integrate MedHx with existing MEDITECH systems at Royal Inland, Vernon Jubilee, Kelowna General and Penticton Regional Hospitals. The balance of the hospitals will be implemented thereafter.


Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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