PROVIDING AMBULANCE SERVICES throughout New Zealand is a core mission for the Order of St John.
Increasingly, the organisation is playing a role in the broader landscape of health and community services, with its first aid training, event medical services, medical alarms, and a wide range of community programmes.
The charity has more than 19,000 personnel of which 2,100 are paid staff and the remainder are valued volunteers.
Its 50-member ICT team is led by interim CIO Barry Thurston. He came from the UK where his previous roles included deputy CEO West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust and national implementation director for Radio Programme for the Department of Health.
Thurston says the rollout of electronic patient report forms (ePRF) over the past year is a key milestone in the modernisation of Order of St John’s ambulance service. The project has been in development for three years and all Order of St John ambulances are now equipped with the function.
The programme enabled staff to move away from paper-based patient forms, and to use Samsung tablets to access critical information on the patient and forward patient information electronically to an emergency department, specialist or GP while on the road.
ePRF allows the secure transmission of patient information between ambulances and hospital emergency departments. This gives ambulance officers access to better patient information, including details of previous ambulance call-outs, and enabling Order of St John to provide higher quality information to emergency department staff, improving patient care.
Order of St John is now in the process of linking this system into the wider health system so that in future ambulance officers will be able to automatically access the patient’s record and obtain information such as previous history, allergy information and drug regimes, says Thurston.
The ability to connect into the wider health system will allow the organisation to create an end-to-end record, from the initial emergency 111 call into Clinical Control Centres, through to the electronic patient record and then the subsequent hospital or GP record.
Thurston says Order of St John has already received queries from ambulance services internationally that have expressed interest in using this technology and the benefits it provides to patients and the wider health community.