The John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, England is acknowledged to be a leading center in the UK for medical excellence. Having been named after John Radcliffe, an 18th century physician, it is the main teaching hospital for Oxford University. The Maternity Unit at the hospital delivers more than 6000 women annually. More than 500 of these are problem pregnancies that are looked after in the Silver Star Unit, which is one of the longest established High Risk Maternity Unit in the UK.
The Silver Star Unit is renowned for its unique approach to looking after problem births. It frequently leads the medical fraternity in new methods of care, which have been adopted in hospitals across the UK as best practice. The unit has now embarked on another project of best practice. It has digitized its specialist patient records from the past 20 years. This is helping them to keep patient information safe, and allows easy and quick access to critical data when time is of the essence.
Doc prescribes Document Management
Complicated cases lead to complicated records. The heart of Silver Star record keeping is a summary document, the Flow-Chart, where the essentials of the care of a woman, sometimes over many months, are summarized in an 'at a glance' format. Many such women return for one or more further pregnancies in which case the previous Flow-Charts give fast access to the details of their previous pregnancies.
Professor Chris Redman, lead doctor at the Silver Star Unit for over 35 years explains, "During pregnancy, doctors and midwives need patient information instantly to deliver the best care. Paper records are bulky, slow to access and are often lost or damaged. Moreover there is only one available per patient so that all members of a multidisciplinary team may not have equivalent access to vital details."
Professor Redman continues "When I started my work at John Radcliffe Hospital back in the 1970s we were working with what were considered state of the art systems. Well, medicine has moved on since then and yet our record systems have not developed. With my retirement a little over a year away, we wanted to get our paper archives digitized before I leave."
A Catalyst for Change
In late 2007 it was decided that the Flow-Sheets should be digitized. The unit looked for a company to supply a system that could safely store two decades of patient data safely in a form where it could be retrieved for clinical care, audit or research. The Professor turned to long time supporter of the Silver Star Unit and Technology Solutions Provider, David Sherwood of Flamble Ltd. to develop a bespoke system.
David Sherwood, Managing Director of Flamble Ltd. explains the challenges that a solution like this poses:
"The major problem with digitizing the Unit's Flow-Charts has been the page size. We were used to dealing with A4, but the Flow–Charts are all A3! Worse, the pages can be double A3 with two pieces of paper being stuck together. This raised many problems. We had to deal with issues like offsetting, where the paper isn't exactly aligned. We needed a scanning system that could deal with this size of paper and could also scan duplex to get all the critical information in one scan."
Just what the doctor ordered
To get the job done Flamble and the Silver Star Unit looked to Fujitsu and their fi-5750C scanner. The Fujitsu fi-5750C is a unique 200 sheet ADF-powered device that can cope with mixed quality sheets from A8 up to the A3 size used by the Silver Star Unit. The scanner also has a flatbed function for scanning delicate documents which is ideal for the older medical charts that are prone to damage.
"The reason we settled on this scanner is it offered the double A3 length scanning that we needed. We compared it with other scanners available in the same price range, and it was the ONLY scanner that could tolerate the two sheets of A3 which have been sellotaped together, sometimes offset by as much as 1cm. When the staff at the hospital stuck the pages together years ago, they did not know that one day they would be scanned and were not too careful in getting the pages lined up. We looked at Kodak, Canon and Bell & Howell Tuper and the Fujitsu came out on top" continues David Sherwood.
The project took a few more months than originally anticipated, but the records are now being digitized and the system is up and running making the Silver Star Unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital one of the most advanced patient record storage systems in UK maternity Units.
Andrew Cowling, Senior Marketing Services Executive for Fujitsu Europe says of the project, "Owing to the nature of a task like this, you need to make sure that it is done right the first time and we are glad they have chosen Fujitsu scanners.
"With much of the medical data in the UK still on paper charts, it is great to see medical institutions working together with technology providers to show the rest of the country how quickly and easily a system like this can be set up."
As well as being quickly and easily set up, the system has also been built with the future in mind. The system uses a database and a custom web program for easy patent data retrieval and easy scalability to ensure the system is resilient should patient numbers increase in the next decades. With the unit constantly attending to problem births a system that was built with the future in mind was the primary goal for both Professor Redman and Flamble Ltd.
David Sherwood also has another reason for wanting this project to succeed. “If it weren't for the Professor and his team, I would not have a wife or daughter. I mean this literally. My wife was at another hospital where they were unable to control her blood pressure: they couldn't even start helping my unborn daughter. So she was transferred to the John Radcliffe Hospital where these problems were efficiently dealt with. With the help of this system, and Fujitsu scanners, we hope that The Silver Star Unit will continue to give the best and most advanced care to babies and mothers in the future."
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