The New Zealand Universal List of Medicines (NZULM) is a New Zealand Government-based initiative that provides commonly-used information about medicines – in one place. The NZULM is a living dictionary of essential and practical information about medicines for doctors, pharmacists, nurses and another professionals working with medicines.
In the past, there were several different lists of medications used for prescribing, tracking what is approved for use in New Zealand, what is subsidised by the Government, and what is dispensed to patients. The use of these different lists and schedules can cause confusion for doctors, pharmacists, and patients. In the health sector, inaccurate information can impact people’s lives.
An initiative funded by New Zealand’s Ministry of Health, the NZULM is currently available as an online website and has recently been made available on a range of mobile devices, including Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 mobile platform. The NZULM database is freely available to users wanting to either access the website or download the application from the appropriate mobile application store.
Intergen developed the Windows Phone 7 version of the NZULM, ensuring the entire database of medicines is available to smartphone users.
The NZULM project provides an important milestone for health professionals in New Zealand: a single list of all available medicines. The project sponsors realised that while it was useful providing online access, not everyone has access to a computer when they need it; many health workers are mobile workers.
A mobile application was needed to ensure everyone has access to the most recent information, wherever they are and whenever they need it.
Intergen developed the Windows Phone 7 version of the NZULM application, working with TouchTech, a New Zealand mobile development company that developed the Apple iPhone edition of the solution.
“We looked at mobile applications as a way of giving people this information when they need it, wherever they are. We needed the user experience to be as consistent as possible across the various mobile devices,” says Shayne Hunter, project lead. “As one of the first organisations to have Windows Phone 7 expertise, Intergen was able to quickly understand our requirements and develop an application that retained the user experience of the original, while balancing these with the usability guidelines specified by Microsoft for Windows Phone 7 applications.”
The NZULM application stores a broad range of details relating to thousands of medications. Users can search across these by their “generic” name, known to industry specialists, or the products’ commercially available product name. When the list of medicines is updated, the Windows Phone 7 application connects to the Internet and downloads the latest dataset, ensuring the records are as up to date as possible.
“We saw Windows Phone 7 as an exciting option. Its ease of use and innovative design indicated that it was going to get good acceptance amongst our audience,” Shayne says.
“We’re excited about the arrival of the NZULM application on Windows Phone 7,” says Paul Claxton, health sector account manager for Microsoft in New Zealand. “Now end users can access this information from anywhere, at any time, and Windows Phone 7 makes this easy.
“We see significant opportunities for businesses to use mobile applications to access and use information, and there is no industry more than the health industry that can benefit from this approach,” asserts Paul.
“Intergen was able to quickly understand the requirements and translate these to Windows Phone 7 and deliver on time and on budget. With Windows Phone 7 devices now available, we’re delighted our audience has a choice when it comes to accessing the NZULM data through a mobile device,” Shayne says.
The maturity of Microsoft’s development tools and the consistency of development experience ensures partners like Intergen can quickly get up to speed with developing a Windows Phone 7 application – the same tools which are used to build a traditional .NET application can be used to build an application for Windows Phone 7, ensuring developers become more productive, faster. As the Windows Phone 7 audience grows, there is a significant opportunity for organisations to provide custom applications to provide functionality or share information to consumers and business users alike.
The arrival of the NZULM application on the Windows Phone 7 enables the Ministry of Health to achieve its vision of making the NZULM data available through as many channels as possible. Up to date information on all available medications can be made available to users anywhere, enabling more accurate and timely access to patient-critical information, and ultimately lifting the standard of healthcare in New Zealand.
The NZULM database is a leading example of a database-driven business application, demonstrating how organisations can take advantage of the latest mobile platforms to provide access to data and information through a smartphone device.