Hospital's innovative computer system wins top national prize

Dr Kieran Hand

Pharmacists and medical microbiologists at Southampton’s teaching hospitals have won a national award for developing a pioneering electronic system to target high quality specialist care for patients with complex infection problems.

Dr Kieran Hand, consultant pharmacist for anti-infectives, and the antibiotic management team at Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust, have been awarded the UK Clinical Pharmacy Association’s Novartis Antimicrobial Management Award 2009 for their e-referral system, which is the first of its kind in the UK.

The prestigious prize recognises innovations that demonstrate improvement in patient care and quality of antibiotic prescribing.

The electronic microbiology ward round referral system replaced the previous paper-based method and provides early referral of patients to a consultant microbiologist.

Until 2007, ward pharmacists identified patients with complex infection management problems and faxed a list of patients in each area to a consultant medical microbiologist in advance of the weekly ward round. 

Dr Hand worked closely alongside software developers and Lorna Adams-Jones, clinical lead in information systems at SUHT, to develop a specification to be incorporated into the hospital's main clinical information system. Input from clinical ward pharmacists and consultant medical microbiologists Dr Adriana Basarab and Dr Julian Sutton was key to successful implementation.

Pharmacists now regularly refer patients for microbiology review using the infection referral function.

Dr Hand said: “We are delighted to have received such a respected national award, which fully recognises just how innovative our referral system is.

“The system supports high-quality specialist care of patients with infections throughout the Trust as we are able to provide an effective means of communication to the ward pharmacist and doctors looking after the patient.” 

The system also has a reporting function that provides valuable information on the number and types of referrals in each area, helping the Trust plan staffing and training.

Posted on Thursday 10 September 2009