Queensland Health are preparing to deliver an updated integrated electronic medical record (ieMR) system across 27 sites by June 2021.

The new, advanced ieMR hopes to improve safety, efficiency and quality in clinical workflow processes but has received criticism from medical staff over privacy concerns and software bugs.

The home call doctor experts at House Call Doctor have put together a summary of what you need to know.

What is an integrated electronic medical record (ieMR)?

The ieMR system is replacing paper charts and records, allowing healthcare professionals to access and update patient information on a shared network in real time. The improved ieMR network can monitor vital signs and alert doctors of any changes to their patient’s health.

The benefits of ieMR

Health care professionals with access to ieMR can view their patient’s entire medical history including current and previous medications and treatment plans. The system aims to reduce errors when treating patients with multiple health care concerns who are receiving treatments from multiple doctors.

GPs, hospital staff and specialists will be able to share patient care information instantly. Queensland Health said this will help provide patients with safer and more reliable care. 

In June 2018, a PwC study of ieMR showed over $180 billion worth of financial benefits. The same report stated the ieMR system improves operational services and patient safety. ieMR reportedly prevented over 5,000 clinical incidents in Queensland, including unsafe drug combinations.

The digital system could reduce paperwork for medical staff, allowing them to have more time with their patients.

Criticisms of ieMR

The ieMR system has been criticised for leaving patients’ private healthcare information exposed to being hacked or misused. Policies and procedures surrounding privacy sensitivity have not yet been made public.

Furthermore, healthcare professionals worry that the system is being rolled out too quickly and requires further development. The Brisbane Times has reported the concerns health clinicians have relating to system bugs including:

  • Incorrect labelling on blood tests
  • Information being in the wrong section of a client’s file
  • Medical staff not being able to find important patient information
  • Client information being deleted from patient files

The main issue noticed by medical staff is that there are no limitations on who can update a patients ieMR. The lack of regulation allows information to be uploaded multiple times, which can confuse clinical staff. While Queensland Health denies any harm has come to patients due to ieMR, medical professionals are requesting processing changes.

ieMR Funding Concerns

In July, the ieMR system rollout was postponed due to funding cuts. While ieMR systems are predicted to reduce costs over time, the funding budget needed for the rollout is over $150 million. Queensland Health originally estimated the project would cost under $60 million.

System investigation

After criticism of the current ieMR system software became public, Shadow Minister for Health, Ros Bates said an independent investigation into the project was needed.

“There needs to be an independent investigation into the failed roll-out and it needs to report to the parliament not the government,” Ms Bates said.

Hospitals with the updated ieMR system in Queensland:

  • Princess Alexandra Hospital
  • Queensland Children’s Hospital
  • Logan Hospital
  • Beaudesert Hospital
  • Redland Hospital
  • Mackay Hospital
  • Wynnum Manly Community Health Centre, Gundu Pa
  • QEII Jubilee Hospital
  • Ipswich Hospital
  • Sunshine Coast University Hospital
  • Gold Coast University Hospital
  • Robina Hospital
  • Nambour General Hospital
  • Townsville Hospital

Hospitals planning to integrate the updated ieMR system in Queensland by 2021:

  • Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital
  • The Prince Charles Hospital
  • Redcliffe Hospital
  • Caboolture Hospital
  • Roma Hospital
  • Rockhampton Hospital
  • Bundaberg Hospital
  • Hervey Bay Hospital
  • Longreach Hospital
  • Mount Isa Hospital
  • Cairns Hospital
  • Thursday Island Hospital
  • Toowoomba Hospital.