UnitingCare Health executive director Richard Royle (right) with National E-Health Transition Authority chairman Steve Hambleton and other delegates at St Stephens Hospital.
UnitingCare Health executive director Richard Royle (right) with National E-Health Transition Authority chairman Steve Hambleton and other delegates at St Stephens Hospital. Alistair Brightman

St Stephen's Hospital's digital system on show

DELEGATES from major private and public hospitals throughout Australia are visiting St Stephen's Hospital in Hervey Bay this week, keen to learn the secrets of efficiency and improved care unlocked by the hospital's digital system.

Richard Royle, executive director of UnitingCare Health, said the state-of-the-art facility had impressed those gathered so far during the three-day event, with delegates from hospitals, banks and the CSIRO anxious to see the system in practice.

"It's terrific for the Fraser Coast," he said.

Mr Royle said because information was recorded directly into an online electronic system, it virtually eliminated the chances of the wrong treatment being given to patients.

Because nurses were not tied down with paperwork or trying to decipher handwritten notes, prescriptions or instructions, that freed them up to spend more time with patients, which was a major benefit, Mr Royle said.

Mr Royle said all equipment in the hospital had a GPS tracker attached, where if a nurse needed to track a wheelchair, they needed only check the location of the GPS device, eliminating the need for them to search for equipment.

Mr Royle said mistakes were made in every hospital throughout the world, but the system in place at St Stephens went a long way to eliminating human error.

Errors could no longer be made by misinterpreting handwriting on prescriptions because all information was recorded digitally.

Each patient was also given a barcode and the barcode was used to digitally record any allergies the patient might have and exactly the prescription they needed.

If a doctor tried to prescribe a drug that the patient was allergic to, an alarm would sound when it was scanned into the digital system, Mr Royle said.

The barcode was also useful in ensuring the right treatments went to the right patients.

Mr Royle was confident every hospital in Australia would want to learn from and implement the system currently in place at St Stephen's Hospital.

"It is groundbreaking," he said. "No one has done this before."

In the three days, several groups have been taken through the hospital to see what it has to offer.

But the strength of the hospital wasn't only its digitalised state, Mr Royle said, describing the hospital as "light and bright".

"It's a good place for healing."

The $96 million digital hospital officially opened in October.

St Stephen's Hospital clinical services include:

  • Ophthalmology
  • Oncology
  • Renal dialysis
  • Gynaecology
  • General medical
  • Orthopaedics
  • Coronary care