Clinical Information System

What is a clinical information system?

A clinical information system (CIS) is an information system designed specifically for use in the critical care environment, such as in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). It can network with the many computer systems in a modern hospital, such as pathology and radiology. It draws information from all these systems into an electronic patient record, which clinicians can see at the patient’s bedside.

What are the benefits of a clinical information system?

A CIS can benefit both patients and clinicians by:

  • improving communication between the many health professionals caring for each patient
  • providing all the information clinicians need to make good decisions
  • making it easier for patients to have x-rays and scans when needed
  • encouraging quality improvement
  • allowing better clinical research.

Why have clinical information systems in Intensive Care?

In ICUs, many medical devices are used to continually monitor extremely sick patients. Vast amounts of information are produced.

This information allows clinicians to make the right decisions.

It is estimated that ICU clinicians manage about 1700 clinical measurements per day per patient, compared to about 32 clinical measurements per day per patient in a general ward.

Without a CIS, clinicians must collect most of these measurements and record them on paper-based 24-hour ‘ICU flow charts’.

With a CIS, all such measurements can be captured, recorded and collated electronically.

This reduces the need for many different paper-based forms, saves time and reduces the risk of error.

Clinical information systems in NSW hospitals

ICU clinical information systems are well established and used routinely in many parts of the world.

They are used in some NSW hospitals, including Bathurst, Blacktown, Dubbo, Orange, Royal Prince Alfred and St George Hospitals, and at The Children’s Hospital Westmead.

In time, they will be used in all ICUs in NSW.


The information on this page is general in nature and cannot reflect individual patient variation. It reflects Australian intensive care practice, which may differ from that in other countries. It is intended as a supplement to the more specific information provided by the doctors and nurses caring for your loved one. ICNSW attests to the accuracy of the information contained here but takes no responsibility for how it may apply to an individual patient. Please refer to the full disclaimer.