Tasmanian e-trial turns to Telstra for help

Tasmanian company iCare and Telstra are trialing a combined WiFi and broadband solution at a Launceston aged care facility in an experiment aimed at improving the quality of medical services offered to residents.iCare hosts the world's largest clinical information database, which details 30 years of patient records from US-based aged care facilities.

Tasmanian company iCare and Telstra are trialing a combined WiFi and broadband solution at a Launceston aged care facility in an experiment aimed at improving the quality of medical services offered to residents.

iCare hosts the world's largest clinical information database, which details 30 years of patient records from US-based aged care facilities. This database is made available over broadband connections to aged care facilities which analyse its contents to create plans outlining how to care for their residents. The rich patient histories the database contains allied to an iCare-developed Wizard-style interface makes it quick and easy to create comprehensive plans in much less time than was previously possible.

The Launceston trial, however, is taking the concept a step further by giving PDAs to staff at the point of care and linking them wirelessly to make it easier to create and access detailed patient records.

"At the moment most aged care facilities capture patient information using paper and pencil," said iCare's Mark Barnett. "But real time capture and interpretation is very valuable. With wireless, if a nurse offers a patient some medication, they enter it into their PDA. If another member of staff had already medicated them they would get an alert right away instead of having to go and check".

iCare also plans to make access to the database possible via XML Web Services, to give all the health professionals who come into contact with a resident the chance to contribute to a single patient record. The result, Barnett hopes, will again be better decisions about how to care for residents, as staff will for the first time be armed with all information on residents' conditions.

The Launceston trial - the facility cannot be identified for privacy reasons - is supported by Telstra's B-elab, a Launceston facility tasked with developing and testing new broadband applications. Telstra assisted with the creation of the WiFi network which, Barnett said, has proved successful. HP PDAs have been deployed, while Microsoft's SQL Server is used to host the clinical information database. "We have been testing for packet loss through brick walls and around medical equipment," Barnett said. -So far everything has gone very well".

"Working wirelessly reduces the time it takes to create a care plan, improves the clinical integrity of that plan and allows more staff to contribute to the plan. The result is improved care".