Twenty years of planning, revising and tweaking have finally paid off for Dr Gracjan Podgorski, who recently presented his innovative patient management software at the Polish Diabetic Association’s meeting in Poznan, Poland.
The specialist physician, based at Greenacres Hospital, said the software, developed in conjunction with local engineer Ettienne Joubert, had helped him cut down on mistakes and spend more one-on-one time with his patients.
Podgorski said he had always had an interest in computers but it was the sheer bulk of patient-generated paperwork that first made him think about developing the system, known as the Electronic Health Record. He presented his software last month. “When I met Ettienne I had something like 500 floppy disks storing patient information,” he said. “I said to him, ‘there must be a better way’. He said, ‘let me see what we can do’.”
At first Podgorski wasn’t overly enthusiastic about similar software developed by IT professionals as it did not meet his needs – so he developed his own.
Today, Podgorski’s system handles more than 11 000 records including those of 3 750 diabetic patients.
The system generates a page containing the personal information of a patient, including a picture.
“[When] I see some of my patients for the first time they are very ill. When they get better they demand a better picture,” Podgorski laughed.
Other parts of the records include the doctors’ clinical notes, a comparison of laboratory results, lists of medicines, scans, x-rays, letters written to the referring doctor, prescriptions and a patient ID card.
“The patient ID card turns out to be very useful. We print it out for them and they can then keep it in their identity document,” he said.
“It lists their conditions but also the medicine that they are on so that there is a record in case of an emergency.”
Podgorski said one of the major benefits of the system was that it allowed him more time to interact with his patients and it cut down on medical errors.
“I have seen this many times. A doctor writes out a script. The pharmacist can’t read it properly. The patient gets pill A instead of pill B.
“We send the pharmacy printed prescriptions. There is no room for error.”
He said the system was also set up to obscure patient identities so the data could be used for research.
Letters are sent in real-time to referring doctors. “There is research showing that this would cut down on readmissions.”
He said his entire staff had been trained how to use the system.
“When someone phones to ask us something we don’t have to tell them to wait [while we] look for a file. We can give them answers.