Ireland is one step closer to fully digitised maternity records after the completion of phase one of a maternity and newborn clinical management system (MN-CMS).

Cork University Maternity Hospital, University Hospital Kerry, Rotunda Hospital and the National Maternity Hospital are all live with the system, meaning 40% of the country’s babies are now born with an electronic health record.

Powered by Cerner Millennium, the system enables a virtually paperless process through antenatal visits, labour and delivery, and post-partum care, slashing the amount of time nurses would usually spend filling out paper charts.

Previously midwives and nurses would spend about 19 minutes preparing paper charts and manually writing in a patient’s notes, but the MN-CMS has reduced this by 98%, according to Cerner, meaning staff get back an average of 76 minutes each shift.

It also reduces the burden on expectant mothers of carrying a ream of paper records to each appointment during their pregnancy.

Orla Sheehan, NICU nurse and systems administrator of the MN-CMS at Cork University Maternity Hospital, said: “We had very good clinician input into our design phases, so there were clinicians at every sage of this who gained national agreement on a number of issues so that we could build all of these into MN-CMS.”

David Clancy, Cerner’s Ireland general manager, added: “The hard work and unique insights of our clinicians and project teams is helping to deliver real value to patients beyond these shores.

“We’re hopeful that more and more Irish hospitals and care providers will look to MN-CMS as a foundation for their eHealth strategies.”

A neonatal safety “bundle” added to the system has reduced the number of medication care issues relating to heparin, dopamine, insulin and morphine by 77%, the supplier said.

Specialist gynaecology services have also been added to the system, improving communication between clinicians and freeing up valuable time.

Cerner’s clinical trials software, PowerTrials, has also been added to the system to better recruit expectant mothers to large-scale studies.

Nicolai Murphy, a clinical co-ordinator at University College Cork, said there had been a 67% reduction in time spent recruiting each expectant mother for the IMPROvED research study, saving just over three hours each week.

The study is contributing to one of the world’s largest biobanks with samples given by mums and babies with the aim of understanding, and preventing, conditions like pre-eclampsia.