Doctors say FirstNet second rate

AT least you can read what staff are writing about patients on FirstNet, Stewart Dowrick said yesterday.

The Mid North Coast Local Health Network chief executive officer said clinical staff in Coffs Coast emergency departments were generally supportive of electronic record keeping, but LHN administrators were continuing to work with them to improve its responsiveness.

FirstNet, the electronic health record system now used in public hospital emergency departments, including those on the Coffs Coast, has come in for a comprehensive drubbing by Professor Jon Patrick, the director of the University of Sydney’s health information technology research laboratory.

Among the many criticisms of FirstNet, Prof Patrick said it was slow, crashed frequently, it was easy to enter the wrong information, difficult to see important information, hard to retrieve records, key strokes had inconsistent functions, screen symbols were hard to interpret and test orders could go to the wrong hospital.

Prof Patrick’s review of the system included a technical study of the software and interviews with the heads of seven Sydney emergency departments.

Mr Dowrick said yesterday the system, introduced locally two years ago, provided better information on ED activities and performance, access block and clinical pathways, ambulance times and when patients were seen, when tests were done and the records were legible.

He said he would be the first to admit continued improvement in reliability was needed and in Coffs Harbour a data quality person was working with clinical staff and checking what happened through the day and that all information was entered correctly.

He said the hospital used a unique medical identifier for each patient.



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