Doctors speed access to vital patient data with new electronic health care record system

Geneva 24 February 2000Patients at the University Hospital of Geneva have received a boost to the quality of their health care following the implementation of a whole new electronic information system. Designed with the support of Knowledge Management Company, IBEX, the system allows doctors to radically improve the time it takes to access complete patient records from departments across the hospital. By reducing the time taken to collate all medical details which are required for diagnosis, medical staff has more time for patients, thereby improving productivity and the quality of care.


Like many other hospitals throughout the world, the University Hospital of Geneva has been confronted with all the familiar problems of a paper-based system to store and retrieve patient information. Since this data is commonly archived in designated areas and departments, health care professionals are often faced with a time-consuming and frustrating task when attempting to form a diagnosis and issue treatment to a patient whom they have never treated before.

Employing techniques learnt at CERN, which is the Swiss world renown high energy physics laboratory, IBEX has developed products specifically designed for the University Hospital of Geneva and in conjunction with the European Telematics Application Programme initiative on health care, SynEx. Called "Uniform" and "F.A.S.T" these products together with sophisticated object modelling techniques, present a full electronic history of a patient's medical background, which is known as an Electronic Health care Record or E.H.R., that can even include x-ray images.

As Professor Geissbuhler of Geneva University Hospital explains, "The paper-based system always meant waiting for a patient's health details to be forwarded, sometimes from more than one place. This means unavoidably waiting too long. If a seriously ill patient is admitted to the Emergency Room, a doctor needs a full medical background, like psychiatric history, allergies to drugs and so on, to be made immediately available."

Cheryll Gerelle, who is Managing Director of IBEX, states the situation as follows: "Data retrieval should be as fast as the human can digest the information. This natural ability is hampered by computer applications that cannot deal with many distributed sources of information, such as that in a medical record. If we can imagine having the just-in-time data, created as needed by a doctor or hospital, then we can start to think about higher quality health care and treatment."

The University Hospital of Geneva has one of the foremost Electronic Health care Record implementations in Europe. Professor Geissbuhler believes that technology such as the Electronic Health care Records, can only improve the quality of care, every health care professional's goal. "With the recent installation of E.H.R., the benefits came from more accurate diagnosis and rapid treatment. With patient records available via one interface, the system avoids unnecessary tests and time wasting, thus becoming a cost-cutting solution."

Professor Geissbuhler equally states that the system shows great promise for the use of advanced technology in health care, and at the same time reflects a huge potential for the global practice of medicine as a unified body. With the success of the Electronic Health care Record system already proven, the next stage of the project is currently underway. This stage involves linking the general practitioners to a secure Extranet so that Geneva GPs will also experience similar benefits to that of the hospital physicians.

IBEX Knowledge Systems is a provider of Knowledge Management solutions, health care products, and development and consulting services. Specialising in object-oriented technology products, IBEX is also the owner of the ITASCA Distributed Object Database Management System. Its functionality has been extended into a Knowledge Management framework, which supports IBEX's assessment methodology, legacy systems integration, enterprise modelling, and management decision support tools.

SynEx which stands for Synergy on the Extranet, is a research group funded by the European Commission and the Swiss Government to provide secure Internet access to health care data for authorised medical professionals to assist them in providing high quality and responsive patient care. As such, SynEx builds on many years of research in this area utilising developments from the Good European Health care Record (GEHR) and Synapses. You can find more information about this consortium at the SynEx home page.

Leslie Versweyveld

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