Patients first in Ormond Street IT integration plan

Great Ormond Street Hospital aims to save a total of more than 30 hours a day of clinicians' time by rolling out technology to simplify the way doctors access clinical software and databases.

Great Ormond Street Hospital aims to save a total of more than 30 hours a day of clinicians' time by rolling out technology to simplify the way doctors access clinical software and databases.

The system will allow clinicians at the London children's hospital to retrieve medical data on patients from a wide range of specialist databases, without having to log on and search each database individually.

It will also help the hospital reduce the risk of clinical error and improve the security of confidential medical information.

"If you have four or five applications open at the same time and you are constantly changing patient, sooner or later you could leave one turned to the wrong patient. That is one of the issues we can avoid," said David Bowen, ERP programme manager at the hospital.

Great Ormond Street took the decision to integrate a diverse range of specialist applications from different suppliers in 2002, but the technology capable of doing so has only recently become available.

It plans to trial a Sentillion single sign-on and content management system in its nephro-urology department between now and Christmas, before rolling it out to 2,000 clinical staff over the course of next year.

The hospital will deliver the system via Citrix thin clients to reduce the processing load on older PCs used in the department.

"We do not have a large IT department, and we wanted something that was easy to roll out. The Citrix approach seemed the best way to go about it. It is most in tune with our strategy direction - divorcing user sessions from physical machines," said Bowen.

The system will initially allow clinical staff to log on with a single password, rather than the five or more they are currently expected to remember. But the hospital plans in time to replace passwords entirely with smartcards, which are due to be rolled out under the NHS National Programme for IT to control access to patient administration systems.

"At the moment, people have to remember a password. That is a chink in your armour. People can share them with colleagues, give them away or write them down. If you have a smartcard, you have much better security," said Bowen.

Once installed, the software will make it easier for the hospital to deploy and integrate a wider range of software from specialist suppliers.

"Eventually, I think this kind of technology will allow an opening up of the healthcare systems market. It will be easier to integrate non-healthcare specific systems into our overall environment," said Bowen. "It does in a lot of ways free you from having to use systems that have patient focus built in from the bottom up."

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