South Island paramedics given best tool for the job

St John paramedics across the South Island have been given direct access to key patient information via HealthOne’s Shared Care Record View. This is a secure record that stores patient health information, including GP records, prescribed medications and test results.

From March 2021, paramedics are now able to use their portable electronic devices to access key information, such as advance care plans, acute plans and hospital discharge summaries, at the point of care. Acute Plans contain patient specific information on how to deliver care for complex patients during an acute exacerbation. Advance Care Plans record a person’s wishes and preferences for future healthcare and end-of-life.

St John Right Care Advisor and Paramedic Orla Fowden says paramedic access to HealthOne was something she wanted to make happen for some time. “I was ecstatic when I was approached by the South Island Alliance Palliative Care Workstream, who identified us as a vital partner in their patient’s journey and that our paramedics have been under resourced with regards to our patient’s health information. They agreed this left us ill-equipped to provide the best possible care to this cohort of patients, with limited access to their acute plans and advance care plans.”

The South Island Alliance connected St John with the HealthOne/Health Connect South team, and an initial working group was formed. “The Alliance was very keen to make access available to front line ambulance personnel. They were vital in instigating the initial working group and have demonstrated immense advocacy for us. They have been a part of the working group from start to finish and arranged regular meetings to check in and help where they can. Throughout the project, I was made to feel welcome and supported – I couldn’t have done it without their encouragement.”

Grant Wells, Senior Project Manager for HealthOne says although HealthOne has been providing access to St John’s clinical desk staff since 2017, enabling paramedics to have remote access is an exciting extension of this work.

Joanna Hathaway, South Island Alliance Regional Programme Facilitator – Palliative Care Workstream (PCW), says improving information sharing between health services in the South Island is one of their key goals. “Patients nearing the end of their life are often cared for by multiple health services in many different settings, all with their own patient management systems.

“This can make it difficult for clinicians to access and/or share patient information and can lead to inefficiencies and inconsistencies in patient care. With this in mind, the PCW has been bringing together key stakeholders to look at ways to improve information sharing so all of our patients can get the best care possible, regardless of which service is currently caring for them.

“From very early on in the discussions, it was clear that greater access to patient information via HealthOne would assist St John paramedics with their assessment and treatment plans when called out to see palliative patients in the community, as their symptoms were often due to underlying illnesses that could be managed differently, thereby achieving better results for patients and potentially avoiding unnecessary trips to hospital.”

With the support of the Canterbury Clinical Network, Jo says the PCW has been working with St John and HealthOne since September 2019. “We are thrilled to see the result of everyone’s efforts with St John paramedics now being able to directly access patient information via HealthOne from their portable devices. The PCW would especially like to acknowledge the hard work of everyone who was instrumental in bringing this complex project to fruition.”

St John Extended Care Paramedic Saxon Ross is grateful for the “endless benefits” of accessing HealthOne as it allows him to gain thorough medical histories for all his patient’s [not only those with palliative care needs].

Saxon now finds himself utilising HealthOne on a daily basis as “historically we relied heavily on a patient’s personal knowledge of their medical history, whereas HealthOne access allows confirmation and provides a significantly more detailed history. This is useful in managing patients with complex conditions and complex management requirements, as well as identifying patients with specific DHB alerts and care plans.”

While there are still some technical challenges to work through, Orla says the tool is a huge step forward for paramedics. “So far, I have had nothing but great feedback. We have had over 100 new applications in the first week of going live and I’m anticipating about the same again over the next few weeks.”

Published on: Tuesday, March 16th, 2021, under Palliative Care