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Six partners in Eastern Ontario join forces to implement EHR

By Shafique Shamji

Consider the care journey many patients face as they negotiate their way through multiple hospitals in the healthcare system to be diagnosed and treated.

A patient in a rural area, for example, might first go to the nearest hospital for tests and initial treatment. There would be registration, care visits and scans performed. If there’s a need for specialized care outside the scope of that facility, then the patient is referred to a specialist at a larger hospital for more treatment.

As the patient moves from one hospital to the next, he or she might have to repeat basic information multiple times or there could be a lag between when diagnostic results are transferred from one hospital to the other. All of this is an extra burden on patients at a time when they need to focus on their health.

Ontario is moving forward with a 10-point implementation plan for its Digital Health Strategy, aiming to enhance access to health information and services, strengthen quality, effectiveness and accountability, and stimulate innovation and growth.

In step with the province, my goal at The Ottawa Hospital is to harness technology to create a better patient experience. And I am very excited about a pivotal project underway involving five partner organizations in eastern Ontario.

The Ottawa Hospital, The Ottawa Hospital Academic Family Health Team, Hawkesbury and District General Hospital, Renfrew Victoria Hospital, St. Francis Memorial Hospital in Barry’s Bay, Ont., and the University of Ottawa Heart Institute have come together as the Atlas Alliance to implement a Health Information System (HIS) by Epic, an industry leader in electronic health record software.

When this digital hospital network launches in June 2019, there will be one integrated electronic system to manage patient information, chart across specialties, and manage research data and physician documentation.

Epic provides a patient-centered platform, with an electronic health record that is accessible regardless of where patients receive care. That means informed decisions can be made with the most up-to-date information.

Through Epic’s MyChart, patients will be able to view their lab or radiology results using their mobile devices. They will have access to education materials, pre-visit questionnaires, and post-visit summary of care.

Patients will become active partners in managing their health.

The Epic HIS will improve the experience of care, the work life of healthcare providers, and the health of our populations, and it will reduce costs. It will provide: best-practice order sets; electronic documentation tools; care pathways; care process management; inter-provider communications; clinical decision support tools; and performance measurement.

Recently, I met Lamia Almorsay, who has the unique perspective of looking at the healthcare system through the eyes of both a provider and a patient. Almorsay, who is a pharmacist, worked overseas for much of her career in quality management, patient safety and hospital administration.

When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she started a year-long journey that enabled her to look at the healthcare system through a patient’s eyes. The view was quite different from the one she has had as a pharmacist.

“Many things could have been done in a better, faster and safer way. I hated the redundancy of repeating myself to every healthcare provider who I consulted with or was referred to. This redundancy or repetition of information may result sometimes in missing information, forgotten information or even misinterpretation of information,” said Almorsay.

It’s stories like these that compelled the partner hospitals to look for a better approach for patients and staff alike.

The scope of the project is broad, the pace is fast, and the dynamic collaboration of analysts, developers, stakeholders, and trainers across six healthcare centres is what will ensure we will reach our goal of implementation. Over the 20-month project our analysts and trainers will configure a system that involves all workflows that support patient care and billing.

Interface developers and business intelligence developers will manage device integration and data conversion. Epic application managers and coordinators are working in concert with the analysts and the developers for each of the 29 modules to support the development, testing and integration of the Epic system, the successful Go-Live and post-Go-Live support.

Stakeholders, including clinicians, radiologists, porters, clerks, and patient advocates, are providing input, reviewing material and making decisions when necessary for the build.

Trainers will be leading mandatory training for 18,000 end-users.

At Go-Live, we will empower staff to deliver 21st-century care using this 21st-century solution. And, we will enable patients to navigate their care journey effortlessly, so they can concentrate on what matters most – the quick return to good health.

Shafique Shamji is Executive Vice President, CIO, The Ottawa Hospital

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1 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    May 05, 2018

    What a great project… is the local LHIN and the Home &Community also involved? So much of the patients life and care is managed outside of the hospital or doctors office and inside their home where attending staff (nurses, physio, occupational therapy etc) are often supporting. If we can collaborate with our community providers and partners , the trajectory of health care delivery would be seamless for the patient!!! What a goal that would be!

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