Digital transformation of processes at Topolšica Hospital: The patient in the first place

Jurij Šorli, M.D., general manager at Topolšica Hospital

In the area of transformation from a paper to electronic world, Topolsica Hospital is quite unique in Slovenia. They are the first hospital in the country that successfully transitioned from the rigorous procedures based on paperwork to digitalization in all steps of a patient’s healthcare treatment.

The current rules in healthcare are set at another level.

“I can summarize the point of digitalization of medical documentation in two sections”, says Marko Oberstar, head of digitization process at Topolšica Hospital. “Firstly, we are witnessing greater data protection, which is significantly better with the introduction of this system, and secondly the protection of the patient’s health itself.

It is a transformation of a decades-old process in healthcare. The transformation is not insignificant, and a leap of this scale requires a lot of time, understanding and a persistent team.

DMS and eStorage manages the chaos and brings order and optimization of hospital processes, precise allocation of responsibilities among operators, complete traceability, and also relieves paper archives that have become unmanageable. However, the purpose of digitalization of processes is greater than all of the above. We put the patient first.”

Electronic digital document management is the only way to maintain quality.

Jurij Šorli, M.D., general manager at Topolšica Hospital on the introduction of digitization: “There were several reasons why we decided to introduce the DMS + eStorage solution in our hospital. Primarily, my main goal was to establish detailed documenting of medical documents, which results in higher quality of treatment, better patient safety and consequently more efficient work in the hospital. It was certainly a large-scale project that required the involvement of multiple stakeholders, their mutual cooperation and the support of all our employees.

The project has been recognized as an important segment of work in our hospital and is already being used by most employees.”

We are moving from chaos to order. This represents the biggest leap.

“Before we started using the DMS + eStorage solution the patients provided their test results and other documents in the usual manner, on paper”, says Mirko Lekić, M.D., specialist in pneumology. “These documents were then inserted into files, which were transported to different clinics and wards by our hospital staff. This is no longer the case, since all documentation is securely stored in digital form in the hospital’s information system.”

The amount of time saved is enormous.

Mirko Lekić continues: “I am very pleased, there are no problems, my work has been made quite easier, as the new digital operation saves me a lot of time, brings order and complete control over signing documents.

Working with the new digital solution is going well, I am very satisfied with this kind of document signing. I have my folder with documents and it is much easier to access than before. I don’t have to walk to different wards anymore. All my documents that are waiting for my signature are in my folder in the information system. When I sign those documents I know exactly that my tasks are done.

Before the implementation, documents were typed by a nurse, then I needed to collect information in different working stations. Then I had to inform the nurse to print the document, and only after that I was able to sign the document by hand. Now, everything is in our information system in my folder ready for review, digital signing and sending. No more walking through different working stations, which saves me a lot of time. When you get familiar with the system, it is very simple to use, the program is very useful. It is definitely worth the initial effort.

Doctors are overwhelmed by paperwork, we are constantly looking for our patients’ test results. However, with this digital solution everything is accessible to us with one click, everything that still needs to be done is clearly visible.”

How does the entire digitalized patient treatment process work?

The patient schedules his hospital appointment using eScheduling. Before the appointment an SMS reminder is sent from the hospital information system.

Upon arrival at the hospital the patient automatically registers into the system using the Queuemate, quickly and without queues. The hospital information system offers the doctor a complete list of all patients whose documentation still needs to be sorted.

As the first of the major healthcare institutions in Slovenia Topolšica Hospital also digitalized that part of the patient treatment process. Namely, also the documentation list and the list of tasks are in the information system in the electronic form, not on paper. All documents are electronically signed and legally valid.

After the appointment or hospitalization the patient’s discharge papers are sent in digital form to the patient’s personal physician via the integration backbone. Upon patient’s request the discharge paper can be issued in paper form, but it is no longer necessary to deliver it to the personal physician, because it is all done automatically by the information system.

A computer will never be a replacement for a physician.

“We had to start deciding differently than before, coming to terms with facts that we were not used to, and accepting the responsibility that each individual holds for their decisions”, says Jurij Šorli. “In chaos, this responsibility is diffused and we are not aware of it. When everything is put in the right place, the responsibility becomes very obvious.

The DMS is the basis of the medical profession which can provide the highest quality of patient care. This was also our main guide.

The effect of the treatment process cannot be evaluated without being structurally detailed. Of course, a doctor will never be replaced by the computer, but it is absolutely necessary to process all the data that occurs in the treatment process.”

Services and diagnostic tests are no longer duplicated.

Jurij Šorli says: “One of the biggest effects of creating order in processes is the fact that health care services and diagnostic tests are no longer duplicated only because of a lack of records.

The journey was challenging, but the goal is positive. The trail can be compared to climbing Mount Everest or a more challenging mountain; there are many avalanches and dangers along the way, certain things also need to be overcome and sometimes go head-to-head through the wall to get to the top, where the reward is waiting for you.

Certainly, we see the DMS and e-Storage as the basis for new projects, in particular the electronic temperature list and even more accurate monitoring and treatment of patients, as well as adjusting the therapy according to the data received.”

All processes are integrated into a complete unit by the DMS + electronic archive

All the hospital’s internal processes are entirely integrated. This is how a hospital can drastically reduce the amount of paper, the authorized hospital personnel can access patient data faster and easier, and the most important fact is that much greater patient data security is achieved, since the system traces all views.