Australian first at MNCCI thanks to the Coffs community

A Rotary-inspired campaign to support local cancer patients has delivered an Australian first for the Mid North Coast Cancer Institute (MNCCI) at Coffs Harbour.

The campus is the first cancer centre in Australia to use technology to interface and integrate its vital signs monitors with an oncology-specific electronic medical record system.

The project reduces the need for nurses to write down patient data, eliminates the risk of mistakes occurring during the transcribing process and enables ‘real time’ clinical decisions to be made based on accurate and immediate patient observations.

The MNCCI invested in the wireless technology which records patient observations, such as blood pressure, pulse rate and respiration, to a central data base. The project, however, was dependent on the cancer unit upgrading its vital signs monitors to models that could use wireless technology to record and transmit clinical observations.

When the Rotary Club of Coffs Harbour Daybreak heard of the initiative and the potential benefits for patients, the club accepted the challenge to bring on board other Rotary clubs to fund the $88,000 monitor component of the project.

Nineteen months after the first monitor was donated, the project is up and running with six new monitors thanks to support from Coffs Coast Rotarians and the Prostate Cancer Support Group. The Rotarians are hoping to have the final four monitors funded by the end of next year.

The MNCCI’s Nursing and Service Development Manager, Jill Harrington, said the project was challenging because there was no precedent in Australia of the monitors being integrated with Australia’s oncology-specific electronic medical record system.

“It’s been a challenge, but we are thrilled with the results.

“Quite simply, we could not have even considered taking this approach to patient care had it not been for the Rotarians and Prostate Cancer Support Group,” Ms Harrington said.

“We had the team and the skills to make it happen, but we needed help from the community to fund it.

“Now that it is up and running, other sites are looking to us to see how we did it and how it benefits our patients.

“And this is just the start. There is future scope to include height and weight records, medications, patient tracking and linking the system to biomedical equipment.

“We have brought together technical expects from Asia and the United States to work with our own highly skilled team in bringing a concept to fruition, and none of it would have been possible without Rotary’s commitment to the project.”

Representatives of the Rotary Club of Coffs Harbour Daybreak, Coffs City, Coffs Harbour South and the Prostate Support Group were invited to tour the MNCCI to see the technology in action.

Coffs Daybreak President Marilyn Brian said the tour was “super informative”.

“I am so thrilled that Rotary has played a part in bringing this together,” Ms Brien said.

“It’s a fabulous, ground-breaking cause.”