Computers in the Clinic

Computers enable information recorded by the doctors about our patients to be very efficiently stored and retrieved. And of course the information is always legible! Computers enable doctors to keep extremely high-quality records and generate very useful referral letters very efficiently. Prescriptions and request forms for investigations (Xrays, ultrasounds, blood tests, etc) are also computer-generated which reduces the risk of errors due to illegibility. The software also provides warnings if drugs the doctor wishes to prescribe might interact with drugs patients are already taking or if they may provoke a serious allergic reaction for the patient!

The computers also allow us to record photographs of skin lesions and trauma as well as images of incoming documents which we have scanned. These can then be attached to patients' files and stored permanently for rapid retrieval.

For security purposes our computer records are regularly backed up onto CD ROM and kept in a secure place. This means that this backed up information stored will not deteriorate and can never be modified, thereby providing elegant security of this important information. Therefore we cannot lose our patient records and even if the clinic is destroyed in a fire or if all our computers are damaged or stolen, the crucial information we have recorded about our patients cannot be lost forever!

Please be reassured that we protect our patients' confidential medical information from any unauthorised access. We do not provide any information to third parties unless patients provide their consent to this.

Our computers are protected from blackouts by backup power supplies which enable us to keep going, at least for a short while (and certainly for long enough to save all our data from loss) when everything else shuts off.

Virus protection software also helps us to prevent malicious damage to our stored medical files. We have also installed a "firewall" to protect our network from malicious hackers getting to our information.

Finally, for those readers who are interested in the sorts of computers we use please be reassured that we ONLY use Apple Macintosh computers! They are very high quality computers, the operating system is very intuitive and easy for people to use and they are very stable. We rarely experience crashes and in the 20 years we have been using computers we've never lost any patient information! Another advantage of using Macintosh computers in Castlemaine is that there is a very supportive Macintosh user group based in Castlemaine, Central Victorian Macintosh Users (CVMU Inc) which meets regularly and provides its members with great support.

We are currently using Genie, a specialised medical records program created by a Queensland GP, Dr Paul Carr, using a database application called 4th Dimension (it's very BIG in America and Europe). This program is just fantastic and we are very pleased with the way it works and allows us to keep very good medical records including digital photographs.The program also runs on Windows and so is rapidly gaining popularity.

We hosted the inaugural Genie Users Weekend Meeting here in Castlemaine several years ago when there weren't all that many doctors using this software and they came from all over Australia to attend this meeting to learn more and share their own knowledge of this particular software program. Now there are far too many doctors using this software for us to possibly accommodate everyone and these weekend meetings are now held in one capital city or another.

All in all, computers used in medical practices can provide great benefits for patients, doctors and their staff!