The Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital in Durban, South Africa, is paperless – and has been since 2002, a time when many hospitals in the northern hemisphere were still sincerely hoping that digitization would never be implemented. The pioneering spirit of the South Africans lives on: Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital is one of the first institutions to implement the full functionality of the JiveX Healthcare Content Management System and to digitally pool all of its medical data into one system.
Three Steps Forward
Its progressiveness is a result of a very successful Public-Private-Partnership (PPP). The province of Kwazulu-Natal, the Public-Partner, had the clear goal in mind of setting new standards for medical care when building the hospital. To fulfil this high standard all non-medical services were undertaken by the Private-Partner, Impilo Consortium. It is the responsibility of the Private-Partner to ensure that the hospital always has a state-of-the-art technical capability. AME Africa Healthcare (Pty) Ltd was founded to manage the entire information technology component of the PPP in a professional manner and keep moving forward relentlessly.
Constantly in Search of "State-of-the-Art" Technology
Its General Manager, Bryn Woombell, who joined AME Africa in 2003, has worked through the years to ensure that the most affordable and "state-of-the-art" IT solutions are procured, deployed and all the hospital clinical staff are trained accordingly to ensure maximum value is extracted out of the integrated solution for the benefit of the patients. "Right from the start in 2002, it was clear that the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital will be the 'state-of-the-art' hospital in the country. The demands on IT were equally great. At this point in time, the AME Group already had extensive experience with design and commissioning of 'paperless and filmless' hospitals, hence were able to build on such experience, which was a great help in the beginning. But keeping a hospital at the highest level of digitization over so many years is a constant challenge and one we needed to rise to on a daily basis".
A Single IT System for all Digital Data
"Digitization has taken huge strides in the last 17 years, whether you're talking about cardiology, radiotherapy, or emergency medicine. Everywhere you look, medical technology is producing digital data, and everywhere there are subsystems for this data. What was missing was a single IT system that could take in and unite all this digital data. For users, it was increasingly awkward to consult umpteen systems to obtain an overview of a patient’s medical record, and for us as IT technologists, the proprietary nature of the various medical devices was unsatisfactory, simply as it is very expensive and complex to manage so many diverse systems and enable clinicians to practice efficiently. Besides, we were unable to fully exploit the qualitative advantages of digitization", explains Bryn Woombell. That last point refers to processes similar to those arising from ophthalmology. For example, digitally generated images were printed out and then scanned back in again in the past. They were available in the patients’ Electronic Medical Record, however with significant loss of image quality, sometimes rendering the outcome near worthless.
JiveX HCM: The Key to State-of-the-Art Data Storage
"Until then, I had not found a system that so exactly met our needs and could so specifically realize our requirements. With the JiveX Healthcare Content Management System we were finally able to pool all our medical data from all our subsystems within one system and feed digital data from technical medical devices directly into the patients’ Electronic Medical Record – without losing any quality along the way," says Bryn Woombell, Genaral Manager of AME Africa.
"Another important point was that now, our physicians just have to log into one system to gain a complete view of a patients’ medical record", explains the General Manager of AME Africa. Since the introduction of the HCM system at the start of the year, the hospital has been using the available HCM gateways to integrate all medical data, including function data, into the system. In-depth integration into the healthcare facility's HIS now allows users to obtain patient-centered access to all the medical information belonging to patients via one system and one multiformat viewer. According to Bryn Woombell, that is a crucial point. "This connection to the HIS is very important for the clinicians and hence patients. As soon as a patient is called up in the HIS, ALL medical detail pertaining to the patient, regardless of source, is automatically retrieved from JiveX. It doesn't work like that with all Electronic Medical Record solutions, as you often need to call-up data in the archives as a separate step, which is a potential source of errors".
A further advantage of consolidated, patient-centered data storage is the increased level of legal certainty. In the event of a legal dispute, images, results of examinations, and other data can be called up for a patient at the touch of a button. In a decentralized IT structure, producing evidence can range from time to time from difficult to impossible.
A Strong Partnership for Long-Term Collaboration
The work on and with the JiveX Healthcare Content Management System is far from over for Bryn Woombell and his team because, "Connecting medical technology and further consolidating medical data is a continuous process – ultimately, technology is moving ever onward". But this continuing development in no way causes stress: "The VISUS team listened to us properly and set up JiveX in a way that we can work with it easily over the long term. We are particularly pleased by the fact that our ideas and requests for the continuing development of the system get a hearing and, if they are practical, they flow into the software development. That's what I call a real partnership of equals".