Medications trolleys in nursing homes may soon become mobile medical centres. The University of New South Wales has won a $300,000 grant to develop and trial a new point-of-care system that will allow nursing staff to manage medications, check patients’ clinical signs and streamline administration and clinical interaction with patients’ GPs.
Professor Branko Celler, Director of UNSW’s Biomedical Systems Laboratory (Health Telematics), leads a team running the trials in five residential care facilities in New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT.
The system is an enhanced version of the Home Telecare system successfully trialled in the past few years and to be released commercially in the next few weeks, subject to Therapeutics Goods Administration approval.
“The Home Telecare system is designed for single user by a single user,” says project manager Dr Jim Basilakis. “This system has multi-user capability and many enhanced features.”
The new system will be trialled in Montefiore Homes in Maroubra and Hunters Hill, NSW, Ardmillan Place in Essenden, Vicotria and the Goodwin House and Uniting Care Mirinjani Village in the ACT.
The first three months of the trial will establish the user requirements of such a system. The following five months will be spent in developing and testing the appropriate software.
Nursing staff will be able check blood pressure, lung function, temperature, pulse rate and weight –and the system will periodically send results back to a central server where doctors can log in securely and check them.
“Managing medications is a very important issue for nursing homes,” says Dr Basilakis. “Often nursing homes will make a phone order and send it to the pharmacist but then they have to arrange for the GP to drop in and sign for it.”
The team is working on a sophisticated medications management system to overcome this problem. It is aiming for a remote prescribing system that will allow the doctor to sign for scripts by an approved biometric method, such as a digital hand signature.
An automated knowledge system would report adverse trend to doctors, either by fax or email. The system would be trained to automatically flag abnormal results to alter doctors to possible health issues.