Plunket has begun testing new software that will create electronic health records for quarter of a million babies and toddlers.
The "Plunket Plus" system, developed by Auckland firm Intrahealth, is the centrepiece of a $15 million five-year overhaul that is designed to take the charity from the "era of the filing cabinet to the tablet".
Plunket's 800 staff, and later volunteers, will enter information into Plunket Plus using tablet computers.
The system will generate alerts to ensure health checks are carried out and followed up and will mean PlunketLine operators will be able to immediately access up-to-date child records.
ICT manager Craig Le Quesne said Plunket Plus was being tested by 10 clinical staff at Plunket's central Auckland office, who got their hands on the software a week ago.
Those tests could run for three months and were likely to be followed by tweaks and then further checks by security consultants that they couldn't hack into the system.
Plunket Plus should be rolled out to all Plunket's 18 regions over about a year to 18 months, starting late this year or early next year, he said. About two or three years later, parents would get access to an online portal that will let them view their child's records online and add notes and comments.
Plunket had originally expected to begin piloting the system last year, but Le Quesne said it had taken the organisation longer than anticipated to put in place the protocols and procedures needed to support the switch to digital technology.
Part of that was ensuring it would meet new health ministry standards for the privacy and security of health information. Ensuring staff understood the importance of protocols surrounding passwords and access to tablets was high in mind in the wake of privacy breaches at ACC and Work & Income.
Plunket had had to do what had taken most organisations 25 years in just three, Le Quesne said. "We have had to build everything from a unified email system, service desk and wide area network, from scratch."
The new technology was unlikely to spell the end of the Well Child books, issued to each parent by the Health Ministry, Le Quesne said. But he said the testing could help reveal whether it might result in more fundamental changes to the way Plunket operated.
"Does it change how customers and clients can contact nurses now? Are we still thinking it's led by us, or is it going to change the whole dynamic? Are we going to get better quality notes? I have got a 1001 questions I can think of."
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