Recently, the Dutch Flevo Hospital in Almere has switched from traditional to electronic mailing services. The new approach has a lot of advantages in store for the patient. The results from the laboratory or the radiology department are more quickly available, the scheduling of patient appointments with specialists takes far less time and the overall risk for committing mistakes in the data exchange has been considerably reduced. Various projects have been launched to optimize the workflow management in the hospital, as reported by the Flevo Hospital Periodical.
As a first initiative, the Flevo Hospital has generated the "electronic pregnancy card" for gynaecologists and obstetric nurses, working for the EVA foundation. They no longer fill in by hand the data of the patients they visit, but they directly introduce them into the computer system, by means of the special software programme Orfeus. By the end of 1998, all EVA nurses should dispose of a portable computer to transmit their data over a simple telephone line to the EVA head office. The EVA centre and the Flevo Hospital are interconnected so that regular tele-consultation is possible between the hospital gynaecologists and the nurses, in case of emergency or complicated child delivery at home. In addition, the "electronic pregnancy card" avoids misunderstanding because of bad handwriting or ambiguous oral communication.
A second project relates to a new system in the hospital laboratory, in use since last April 7th. The various devices for analysis have been interfaced with the computer. After the patient material has been examined and tested, the outcomes are immediately available in the form of a computer roll-out. In the near future, these results will not be printed out on paper anymore, but electronically mailed to the specialist or the general practitioner. In some cases, there may be a need for supplementary tests. The new system however is able to monitor all further actions by means of the original material so that the patient doesn't need to come back. Additional features constitute comparison between former results and current data of the same patient and statistic research capabilities. At the Department of Radiology, a newly installed computer system transmits X-Ray reports by electronic mail.
The out-patient's facilities of the Flevo Hospital dispose of an advanced specialist appointment scheduling system since February 1998. This third project enables automatic search for the surgeon who is first available to perform an operation on a patient, waiting on the list. If you need to see more specialists at once, the planning system has the ability to match the appointments harmoniously one after another in the right order. A fourth initiative is based on the intensive collaboration with the local centres of care. Since last May, these are being interconnected with the hospital dispensary to provide a better and appropriate medicine distribution among the population. The telemedical start of the Flevo Hospital still may be modest, but it surely proves to be very effective.