UK Cancer Network implements Varian electronic prescribing and
patient record system
9 February 2010
Chemotherapy software that enables patients to become more
involved in managing their own care has been successfully rolled out
across a network of hospitals in the UK.
The Thames Valley Cancer Network has implemented Aria for Medical
Oncology from Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR) and already has more
than 850 clinical staff routinely using the system.
The network, comprising cancer centres in Oxford and Reading, and
district general hospitals in Wiltshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire,
has staggered the implementation over the past year, with Buckingham
Hospital going ‘live’ early in 2009 and the Great Western Hospital in
Swindon recently becoming the most recent site to roll out the program.
“The ARIA system has been extremely well received by clinical teams
and patients alike,” says Dr Claire Blesing, consultant clinical
oncologist at Churchill Hospital in Oxford and clinical lead for the
project. “A big plus is that ARIA is not just a prescribing system, like
the previous method we had here in Oxford, it’s a full medical record.
We were looking for something fresh and new to use in trusts that had no
great background in electronic chemotherapy prescribing and ARIA gives
us all the functionality we require.”
Dr Blesing added, “We needed something that could be accessed from
all hospitals across the Thames Valley Network without losing data
between them. This enables a patient to be prescribed initial
chemotherapy in one hospital in the network and then have follow-up
treatment in another.”
Varian’s ARIA oncology information system provides all the tools
needed to manage the clinical, administrative, and financial activities
of a medical oncology department. The oncology-specific electronic
medical record (EMR) is the centrepiece of the system, enabling a
personalized care pathway to be designed for each patient from initial
diagnosis through follow-up. The system manages chemotherapy, drug
orders and all other non-drug physician orders.
“The system’s toxicity evaluation sheet records the side effects a
patient has when taking chemotherapy and we can record how well they are
and how much they weigh each time they come in for a consultation,” said
Dr Blesing. “This is all on the same patient record as you use to
prescribe chemotherapy. So when a patient is with me, I have it
displayed on the screen in front of me and the patient can also see it.
We also give the patient a record book to take home and they become much
more involved in managing their treatment.”
Susan Wright, 66, a cancer patient at Great Western Hospital in
Swindon, said, “Dr Blesing explained the system to me when I first began
chemotherapy treatment and I have constantly felt part of the process
rather than simply being told what to do. We go through my medical
record together and it enables me to become more involved in managing my
Dr Blesing has worked with colleagues at Trusts across the network —
comprising Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust, Milton Keynes General
Foundation Trust, Buckingham Hospitals NHS Trust, Royal Berkshire
Foundation Trust (Reading), Heatherwood & Wexham Foundation Trust and
Great Western Hospital Foundation Trust — to ensure the ARIA
implementation matched the robust nature of the network’s protocols.
“This means all the steps in the process from prescribing, to
pharmacy checking, dispensing and drug administration by nursing staff
can now be signed off electronically whereas previously the pharmacists
used to have to check a printed off version and then fax it to the
pharmacy,” said Dr Blesing.
“The prescription was then prepared and sent back for signing by the
nursing staff and many changes were made by hand. Now nothing needs
printing and this reduces the possibility of errors and gives us more
time to pay attention to our patients.”
Thames Valley Cancer Network has now offered to share its regimen
library and network-written user guides with all other UK ARIA for
Medical Oncology users to try to reduce duplication of work across the
country and speed up the process of ARIA implementation elsewhere.
Steve Laws, Varian’s European software sales manager, said, “We are
honored that this pioneering cancer network felt that ARIA met its needs
for a fast, flexible, and paperless record keeping system. We are
looking forward to working closely with the six trusts in this network
to ensure the ARIA rollout brings as many benefits as possible for
clinical staff and patients.”