Electronic prescribing in hospitals

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Editor, – Hugo Stephenson makes some very good points in his editorial, 'Electronic prescribing in hospitals: the road ahead' (Aust Prescr 2001;24:2-3). There is clearly a need for hospitals to implement electronic strategies to reduce adverse events, improve the quality of patient care through decision-support tools and facilitate the continuum of care between hospitals and the community.

The Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre (A&RMC), Melbourne, is in the process of implementing a fully integrated, web-based electronic health system, including electronic prescribing and administration. Features of the system will include use of mobile computing for bedside prescribing/recording and clinical decision support. We plan to pilot the electronic prescribing and administration software in November 2001 with roll-out to the Medical Centre during 2002.

Our impression from evaluation of prescribing software used in general practice is that the software would require significant modification for the hospital environment. In addition, there are scalability issues that would need to be overcome for general practice software to perform well over a hospital network.

Initial funding for implementation of the electronic health system at the A&RMC was provided by the Department of Human Services, Victoria. However, further funding will be required to complete the project.

If hospitals are to implement electronic prescribing and administration and realise the benefits of such a system, funding must be provided, as it has been for general practice.

Rosie McKew
Pharmacy Business Manager
Team Leader, Electronic Prescribing and Administration Project Team
Austin & Repatriation Medical Centre