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Island Health launches paperless record system in Nanaimo

Suzanne FoxNANAIMO, B.C. – Patient records are about to go paperless as Island Health launches a new electronic medical record system in Nanaimo. Nanaimo will be ground zero for IHealth, the health authority’s new $178-million medical system, set to roll out this February.

“The system eliminates time-consuming faxes, which can also be lost. It also reduces the chance of errors when hand-written notes are used in paper charts, and can’t be read by the recipients,” said IHealth executive director Suzanne Fox (pictured).

The initiative will bank patients’ medical history in one place, allowing professionals like pharmacists, occupational therapists and physicians to access and add to the same record. That means less fragmentation of patient records, with more information available to caregivers.

“We know that when patients go from a hospital to home, or to their GP’s office, there’s sometimes missed information because it’s verbal or handwritten. Now it’s in that one place,” said Fox.

Patients will no longer have to carry around paper and doctors will also be able to enter orders for patients themselves if there’s a need for chest x-rays or blood work, instead of writing it on a piece of paper for a unit clerk to transcribe. It’s instant and eliminates wait time for patients, Fox said.

Nanaimo was initially supposed to hook into IHealth last June, but the system wasn’t ready. Local ancillary health services like labs and pharmacies will be the first to see the electronic system, Feb. 21. Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and Dufferin residential care will log in on March. 19. Eventually the idea is to see the system Island-wide.

The IHealth EHR, developed in partnership with Cerner, is a recording and reporting tool, enabling electronic health documentation, communication, scheduling, ordering and standardization, and decision-making.

IHealth is focusing on client-centered care, and reaching Island Health’s goal of One Person, One Record, One Plan for Health and Care. The impetus for this change is to help clinicians provide safe, quality care, and to improve the patient experience.

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