Since 23 September, Hospital Network Antwerp (ZNA) has started using ChipSoft's electronic health record (EHR) HiX in its various locations. It is the result of an intensive joint implementation process with network partner GZA Hospitals, which had its go-live with HiX in June of this year. In anticipation of the scheduled merger of the healthcare facilities by 2024, the implementation of HiX in ZNA has made the digital cooperation of both organisations a reality. The joint EHR is the ideal tool for the hospitals to provide patients in the Antwerp region with quality and safe care.
Digital remodelling of the hospital
The transition to a new EHR is a lengthy process and can best be described as the digital remodelling of the hospital. 1.6 million patient records will need to be transferred to the new system, the software will need to be configured to support the work processes within the hospital, and all staff members will need to be trained to use the new system. This requires a tremendous amount of time and energy from the entire organisation, but will pay dividends in the long run. For one, the restructuring and harmonisation of the work processes in ZNA and GZA Hospitals will result in seamless interaction and cooperation between the different locations and care providers. This improves patient safety and enables care providers to focus entirely on providing the best possible care.
Wouter de Ploey, CEO of ZNA: 'The implementation of an EHR is an enormous and complex process: you can compare it to constructing a new hospital, but digitally. Today, after nearly two years of preparation, we have transferred the data of 1.6 million patients to a fully integrated system, with a single digital record per patient. Previously, these data were spread over 72 subsystems. Combined with the data from our hospital partner GZA Hospitals, we now have 2.6 million digital patient records in ChipSoft's EHR, HiX. I would like to congratulate all of our staff members and those at GZA Hospitals with the largest project of this type ever conducted in Belgium, and one of the ten largest ever in Europe.'
A single integrated EHR
The 72 separate subsystems have made way for a single integrated EHR in which care processes are registered in one place from beginning to end. Each patient only has a single record in which medical data is registered once. These data can then be reused, adjusted, or supplemented at any point in time. Consequently, any care provider involved in the care for this patient has direct access to the most recent information. The anaesthesiologist in the operating theatre, for instance, will immediately be able to view the report of the emergency physician, and registrations of nursing activities (such as starting an IV) are automatically carried over as a patient moves between different departments. Other care providers in Belgium may also be able to access a patient record through the CoZo platform, though only with explicit consent from the patient.
An integrated EHR helps make patient safety and quality of care the focal point. It is a great improvement over the old situation, in which data were fragmented over different subsystems, applications, and care providers, and would often need to be copied manually.
Realising digital ambitions
Not only does the electronic health record HiX support ZNA and GZA Hospitals in areas such as patient safety or quality of care, it also offers an innovative and advanced digital solution. All hospital data are registered and stored in the EHR, and managed by the healthcare facility. This means that the healthcare facility is able to use these data to generate a variety of reports and management overviews, to monitor and adjust work processes if necessary. This helps provide the healthcare facility with a complete picture of the workflow across the entire organisation.
The EHR includes a variety of other solutions, such as mobile apps with which authorised care providers are able to view and register patient data from anywhere inside the healthcare facility. HiX also supports interfaces with external applications. Patients can access a personal online patient portal, in which they are able to view their information, fill in questionnaires, and schedule appointments. This is a great way of involving patients in their own care process.
ZNA is the single largest healthcare organisation in Belgium, and is committed to providing the best possible level of care. In 2020, ZNA and GZA Hospitals decided to pursue a joint electronic health record, in order to promote cooperation in the Antwerp region. It was also a future-proof decision, as the two network partners are looking to merge into a single healthcare organisation by 2024. Now that HiX has had its go-live at ZNA as well, the EHR is able to offer both healthcare facilities the tools and solutions they need for efficient cooperation and secure exchange of data. This, in turn, enables optimal patient care. This is a great leap forward, particularly in light of the planned merger.
The full implementation process of HiX in ZNA and in GZA Hospitals was a monumental task, and the go-live in ZNA marks a new stage in the process. For nearly two years, various organisations have committed themselves to preparing the EHR for use in both healthcare facilities. In total, 2.6 million patient records were transferred to the new EHR and 14 locations simultaneously started using HiX. A system of this scale and degree of completeness is exceptional on a national and European level, and the implementation process is among the ten largest of this type ever conducted in Europe.
Hans Mulder, CEO of ChipSoft: 'Together we have worked hard toward this moment. We are extremely proud that the next step has been taken in this enormous project. By transitioning to HiX, ZNA and GZA Hospitals now have a fully integrated, innovative, and future-proof EHR that continually improves. We look forward to further strengthening the partnership between ZNA and GZA Hospitals, and healthcare as a whole.'