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Better management makes for better medicine

27 March, 2006

As an intern at Adelaide's Queen Elizabeth Hospital with a background interest in programming, Rohan Ward soon recognised the potential for a computer-based patient management system that could save clinicians’ time and increase efficiency.


Four years later, working with development partner and fellow medical professional Marc Belej, and some help from the Commonwealth’s Commercialising Emerging Technologies (COMET) program, a good idea has evolved into an innovative, sophisticated product – and what began as an interest has become a career.

‘The BOSS’, as the system is known, is a tailor-made tool for use by doctors and other clinical practitioners for the day-to-day management of their hospital patients. Using a desktop or hand-held ‘wireless’ computer, users can access patient information, order investigations and review results quickly and easily. The system even generates reminders if results aren’t reviewed within a specified time.

There are also advantages for the wider hospital system. Computer-generated orders are always legible, easy for a laboratory to locate, interpret and fill, and can be tracked and audited, reducing duplication and the risk of error. In addition, the web-based central reporting facility provides departmental heads and hospital administrators with a powerful auditing and resource management tool.

Probably one of the most attractive aspects of the system for users, and a major competitive advantage, is that it can be easily customised to accommodate the needs of the individual clinician, be it medical specialist, nursing practitioner, physiotherapist or any other field of clinical practice.

As Rohan observes, “As doctors we knew what we wanted The BOSS to do for us, but we also recognised that other clinicians would want – and need – different things. But it’s not always easy – people tend not to ask you for changes or enhancements, they just complain that the system doesn’t work.” 

Rohan first started using the system in its earliest form in the various surgical units he worked in as an intern, the positive reception from his fellow clinicians encouraging further development. Presentation at several research conferences followed, and the first reference site was set up at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

The pace intensified throughout 2001, with Core Medical Services officially established in March, and the first official sale of The BOSS to Geelong Hospital in Victoria in November. A second reference site was set up in January 2002 at Lyell McEwin Hospital in metropolitan Adelaide, followed by a second sale to Victoria’s Latrobe Regional Hospital in July 2002.

Despite the company’s success to date, for Rohan the real proof of Core Medical Solutions’ potential to thrive will come with its next sale. COMET assistance of $50,000 in March 2002 enabled the company to complete a more thorough business plan, establish a number of provisional patents, create a website and, most importantly, set up a working prototype of the mobile, or ‘bedside’, version of The BOSS. “The AusIndustry assistance was absolutely essential to the prototype, and the prototype is absolutely essential to the future of the system and the company”, says Rohan.

As he explains, “For The BOSS to be really effective, to offer something that other systems don’t, it has to be mobile – to go with the clinician anywhere in the hospital environment. It has to let you do everything on the run – order tests, access notes, review patients. The technology’s there, why not use it.”

Having assisted with the initial scoping work and interaction with service providers, a COMET Business Adviser is now working closely with Core Medical Solutions to develop a capital raising strategy, market the investment opportunity, and bring investors to the negotiating table.

The company is also actively seeking partners with complementary businesses, however there are no plans for rapid expansion just yet. Says Rohan, “We’re deliberately building slowly, doing everything properly from the start. We think we’ve got enormous potential to make a difference, for better medical practice and, ultimately, for better patient care.”

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