eHospital in the words of Dr Zafar Chaudry, Chief Information Officer

With the 250th anniversary of Addenbrooke's Hospital Open Day having just taken place on Sunday 20 March 2016, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank everyone who visited the eHospital stand in the Deakin Centre. I hope you found it informative and an impressive reflection on how far Cambridge University Hospitals has come over the past 18 months since eHospital was launched in October 2014, making Addenbrooke's and The Rosie hospitals two the most digitalised hospitals in the UK. 

For those who were unable to attend the open day at the weekend, and perhaps don't know a huge amount about eHospital, I’ll take this opportunity to fill you in.

eHospital at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) is our new electronic patient record system that was launched across Addenbrooke’s and The Rosie hospital on 26 October 2014. Our new system, provided by Epic (£60million contract over a 10-year period), enables our clinicians to view a patient’s medical record when and where they need to, without having to wait for or write in paper notes. New computers, networks, workstations on wheels (wows) and handheld devices allow our clinicians to record vital information at a patient’s bedside, directly into their electronic medical record, and in real time.

Having relied heavily on multiple age-old computer systems and paper records for many years, and with any change of this scale, the Trust-wide implementation of eHospital was never going to be without its challenges. Over the past 18 months we have learnt important lessons which have helped aid the development of eHospital at CUH, and from which the rest of the NHS will benefit as hospital Trust’s in the UK move towards the government’s ambition of a digital NHS.

So how far  have we come since October 2014 when eHospital went live? Here are some examples…

  • many of our clinical and administrative processes at CUH are now paperless - the amount of paper records we use has reduced by 40% in outpatient areas and 80% in inpatient areas
  • we've reduced the time it takes to prepare discharge medications from 90 mins to 45 mins as our Epic system 'talks' directly to our pharmacy robot
  • our clinicians review patient notes and x-rays virtually before deciding whether or not a patient actually needs to attend the hospital's fracture clinic (Virtual Fracture Clinic launched in February 2015)
  • every inpatient has a barcoded wristband which links to our Epic system to improve patient safety. On Ward D2, one of our paediatric wards, they are successfully scanning the patient's wristband and medication simultaneously to further improve patient safety by ensuring the right medications are given to the right patients
  • our new system provides allergy based decision support to our clinicians which is leading to safer prescribing
  • we typically have 3,200 concurrent users in our Epic system at peak times

International HIMSS Stage 6 accreditation

In October 2015, CUH was awarded international accreditation from HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) for its effective use of technology in providing high quality patient care. We’re the first Trust in the UK to achieve HIMSS Stage 6 status (stages range for 0 to 7 (best)) within a year of a fully integrated electronic patient record being implemented. Prior to eHospital we were a Stage 1 Trust! We are looking forward to collecting the award in April as a reflection on how far we've come since eHospital went live.

What the future holds

The next exciting phase of eHospital is the launch of our new patient portal – known as MyChart – which will start to be piloted in certain areas of Addenbrooke’s Hospital in a few weeks' time. MyChart is the only patient portal that has the capability of interacting with an electronic patient record, hence one of the reasons for selecting Epic. To begin with patients will be able to view upcoming hospital appointments, see certain parts of their medical record, be able to add new medications/allergies to their record and complete pre-clinic health questionnaires electronically. MyChart will enable improved communications between patients and clinicians, and our patients will be much more involved in their care. Further information about MyChart will be available to our patients shortly.

We’re also improving how we communicate with GPs. Along with sending patient discharge summaries electronically to GPs, we are in the process of setting up the ability to automatically send patient clinic letters to GPs from within Epic. Once the functionality to enable this is complete, we’ll be sending approximately 1.1 million documents per year to GPs via this electronic route.  

It’s an exciting time for eHospital and CUH. Yes we still continue to face challenges but we’ve come an incredibly long way since October 2014 when eHospital was launched. The collaborative working between hospital staff and the eHospital team is allowing issues to be resolved and enabling the enhancements and development of the technology that we now have.

Dr Zafar Chaudry
Chief Information Officer, CUH