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Improving access to toxicology information

Improving access to toxicology information

18 January 2019

Austin Health clinicians have created an app that allows them to have easier access to clinical toxicology guidelines, making it quicker to diagnose and treat patients who present to hospital with common poisonings. 

In the digital world where we are all on our phones, we want quick and easy access to resources, says Hospital Medical Officer, Dr Luke Fletcher.

Together with the expertise of Emergency Physician Dr Yit Leang, the pair created and developed an app that stores up to 100 clinical toxicology guidelines.

The app provides clinicians with one page guidelines developed by clinical toxicologists and specialists in poisons information so they can conduct risk assessment and manage patients that present to hospital with common poisonings.

The idea was ignited when Dr Leang explained to Dr Fletcher how the current guidelines are only available through the intranet, and at times can often take a few minutes to search for a guideline that is required urgently.

Within that moment, Dr Fletcher knew what he could do to solve the problem.

Over the next six months, the pair worked together to develop the app and get the right checks and approvals in place. The app has become available to clinicians at Austin Health and around the world, launching just over a month ago.

We already have over 1,000 active users both nationally and internationally, says Dr Fletcher.

Another bonus is that the app is free and can be downloaded either on iPhone or Android via the App Store or on Google Play.

While Dr Fletcher is a doctor by day, he was encouraged by his teachers in high school to try new and different things. He decided to explore the world of IT and started to build websites and develop apps. Although he wanted pursue medicine, he still kept to his hobby of creating apps.

Dr Fletcher believes IT can change the way we deliver patient outcomes.

I really loved medicine, but I also loved the way in which medicine and IT can come together, particularly in ways where IT can help deliver better health care to patients.

 The app has brought together all the clinical toxicology resources in one easy to use system which everyone can install on their phone, Dr Fletcher says.

The app has already received positive feedback from staff around the hospital.

A colleague of mine who has been using the app says it’s a great tool because it helps him to assess patients quicker as the information is right there, says Dr Fletcher.

The app has helped to reduce the number of calls made to the Clinical Toxicology Department and Victorian Poisons Information Centre.

The Clinical Toxicology department and Victorian Poisons Information Centre are leading resources in Victoria for integrated poisons information and management.

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