Southern DHB’s innovative cancer multidisciplinary meeting (MDM) system will soon be supporting quality clinical decision-making for cancer patients across the South Island.Designed by local clinicians and an IT developer, the electronic MDM system has been in use in Southern DHB since 2013. It is being made available progressively across the South Island via the Health Connect South clinical portal from 31 July.
MDMs bring together a range of specialists involved in diagnosing and treating cancer to discuss individual patients and make treatment or care plan recommendations. They are a key part of best clinical practice and patient management; providing continuity of care and reducing variation in access to treatment – and ultimately improving outcomes for patients.
The electronic MDM system was developed to support these processes following an extensive review of local services, says Dr Blair McLaren, Southern DHB Medical Oncologist and MDM Clinical Lead. “We took a pragmatic approach, with the aim of creating an intuitive and functional electronic form that could be easily completed in real time to support and document decision making in the MDM. It was also important to ensure there was consistency across the different tumour streams that use the system.”
The project was initially led by a design and development team consisting of Dr Colin Wong, Respiratory Physician and Chair of the lung cancer MDM; Lance Elder, Application Developer; Paula Goodman, former MDM Quality Facilitator and Dr McLaren.Making the system available across the South Island will provide many benefits, says Dr Adrian Balasingam, Chair of South Island Cancer MDM Governance Group and Canterbury DHB Consultant Radiologist. “We are really excited about the opportunities and improvements this software system will bring to the rest of the South Island. Currently, a mix of different systems is being used such as letters sent by post, emails and spreadsheets. It could be weeks before all the information was collated, finalised and available for everyone to view. Now, this information will be available to our clinical teams and GPs within hours or a day. Southern DHB’s solution will significantly speed up the entire process, which is also a key enabler of the FCT (Faster Cancer Treatment) initiative.”
Other advantages of a single, shared electronic MDM system include: better alignment of MDM processes and practice across the South Island; quality and consistency of referral information; improved timeliness of clinical documentation following MDMs; increased visibility of patient care coordination and inter-district flow; and better support for clinical audit and reporting requirements.The MDM system will be piloted by the Canterbury gynae-oncology and lung cancer MDMs for six weeks before being made available progressively to all remaining cancer MDMs hosted in the South Island. The South Island Alliance’s Southern Cancer Network is leading the project and the South Island Cancer MDM Governance Group is providing clinical leadership.Regionalisation of the system also supports the Ministry of Health’s Cancer Health Information Strategy and Cancer Plan 2015-2018, which has a focus on the standardisation of MDM data and development of appropriate tools to support this.