Australia's most remote EHR goes "off-line"

The Aurora Australis ferries groups of up to 75 research scientists and support staff each year to various bases throughout the Antarctica. Limited satellite services mean that other mechanisms for providing access to health information is vital. 

Intrahealth’s electronic health record solution with offline functionality enables medical practitioners to access medical records for the people who face isolation and extreme survival conditions. 

Personnel may be in the field (off station) for periods up to three months, isolated on stations for up to nine months, or on marine science voyages of long duration. The stress of isolation, environmental conditions, and extreme remoteness from major medical facilities are important concerns. 

The Challenge

The research scientists who study the unique Antarctica environment travel over 3400 kilometres to the Antarctica bases. Satellite connectivity is very limited and patchy at best on the journey. The doctors charged with caring for the people on board these ships need access to the medical records, past and current to support effective clinical care. Intrahealth’s electronic medical record solution supports both high and low latency networks through multiple network protocols however when no network access is available medical practitioners required a solution. 

The Solution

Intrahealth has always had an “off-line” solution enabling copies of databases, however, as number of records grew simply replicating a large database was not going to be practical for organisations with large files or where there were multiple deployments. After many years working with the New Zealand Defence Force, Intrahealth created a “Deployed Offline” solution that supports taking groups of patients and their records offline. When connectivity is returned, information from the offline groups is synchronised back to the central repository. Key to the solution is the ability for both the offline and source data to continue to be updated. The electronic medical record solution has sophisticated version controls that ensure the reader understands when and where the data was updated. 

The Benefit

Through enabling smaller sized data stores to be transported, the offline process is much faster and efficient. Only records for those deployed expeditioners are exported. It also means that the practitioners can carry much smaller laptops.