CUMH leads the way as Irish system goes digital

It cost €35 million and involved 9,400 hours of staff training but a new electronic health record (EHR) for babies at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) will alert doctors to the possibility of sepsis and prescribing errors.

The Maternal and Newborn Clinical Management System (NM-CMS), launched in Cork at the weekend and earmarked for nationwide rollout, will make Ireland the first country in the world to have a single national EHR for maternity hospitals.

“Up to now it’s been on paper, as an appendix to the mother’s health record,” said Richard Corbridge, HSE chief information officer. “It means that instead of the nurse capturing information at the bedside every 20 minutes and logging it on a chart with pen and paper, this system will allow them look at a screen and see what has happened,” Mr Corbridge said.

Different devices used to measure respiratory rate or heart rate or temperature are connected to the system which will log data on the baby’s charts. It can also send various alerts designed to improve patient safety.

Professor Richard Greene, consultant obstetrician at CUMH and one of the principals involved in tailoring the new system to Irish maternity units, said these include sepsis alerts and medication error alerts.

“It not only monitors observations, but also the bloods that come back from the lab, so if there is anything to indicate sepsis, it will send an alert,” Prof Greene said. “Or if someone has an allergy to a particular drug or if the dosage is inappropriate for a patient’s weight or if a patient has already been given a drug and someone went to give it again, it would send an alert, so it will hopefully reduce drug errors.

“It will make an enormous difference to have information available to anyone dealing with the patient as they need it. We won’t all be looking for the same patient chart,” he said.

The system should be in place in University Hospital Kerry in Tralee by March 2017 and across the country’s remaining 17 maternity units after that.

It was designed by American multinational Cerner who signed a 10-year contract with the HSE. Health Minister Simon Harris said the introduction of the new EHR “marks a very significant advance in our national journey towards a digital health system”.

It is the first EHR system to be implemented on a shared record basis in the Irish healthcare system.


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