Thursday, September 06, 2007

Hamilton Health connecting around the world

Hamilton Health Sciences' orthopedic surgeon Dr. Justin deBeer was halfway around the world in Taipei, Taiwan but wanted to be able to keep tabs on his patients back in Canada. What in the past would have been a next to impossible proposition was actually done quickly and easily thanks to ClinicalConnect – a web-based portal for physicians that brings together data from three of the hospital’s most commonly used clinical software systems in an electronic health record format.

Hamilton Health Sciences worked with Medseek to design and implement the "ClinicalConnect" portal, but also engaged physicians from a variety of disciplines to offer input and drive the creation of the final product. Since Meditech is the most widely used information system at Hamilton Health Sciences, it was the first to be merged into the ClinicalConnect environment. ClinicalConnect offers a user-friendly view of the Meditech information, which ranges from admission information to lab results, and allows physicians to view the information simply by signing on to ClinicalConnect.

The next step involved adding views of patient records, stored in a system called Sovera. Currently the charts are scanned and merely displayed through ClinicalConnect, however, the portal does allow physicians to view the information and also indicates the number of chart deficiencies that need to be resolved. By the end of this year, physicians will be able to access Sovera directly through ClinicalConnect, which will enable them to interact with patient information in real time and directly resolve any chart deficiencies. In the future, physicians will have the option to e-edit and e-sign Meditech-based charts in the portal, and the updates will be passed back to the Meditech system. When this feature is available in the portal, it will also be available via PDAs.

Adding PACS to the system proved to be a tremendous enhancement, since it enables physicians to view X-rays from the same system that houses other clinical information about their patients. And by signing on to one system, physicians can access and interact with all of this information. They can also customize their views and pick and choose which information they want to see and when.

“Our ClinicalConnect portal gives physicians and other clinicians secure, real-time access to electronic patient records. Whether they are at the hospital or elsewhere, our physicians can quickly access all clinical reports, lab results, PACS images, pharmacy medication lists and much more,” said Dale Anderson, information and communications technology manager of projects and e-Health solutions at Hamilton Health Sciences.

As Hamilton Health Sciences expands the wireless network within its four sites, ClinicalConnect will become even more valuable. Already, some physicians have been piloting wireless applications of the system on PDAs in certain areas of the hospital. They’ve got access to all available patient information when they are seeing the patient. Patients are also able to ask questions about particular tests and procedures when they are with their doctor and do not have to wait for results to be retrieved from another computer or system.

The remote access to patient information through ClinicalConnect enables healthcare providers him to use remote Internet access to call up the patient’s information, including X-ray images and blood work, to check up on patients.

View a (Flash-based) overview of Hamilton Health Sciences "ClinicConnect” solution.

Originally published in Canadian Healthcare Technology, April 2007

Alberta’s Telestroke Program | Technology to improve stroke care to remote areas

Canadians living in rural and remote areas of Alberta will have better access to stroke diagnosis and treatment services through an investment of close to $1.1 million from Canada Health Infoway in the province-wide network that links stroke specialists and patients.

The Telestroke program will provide funding to participating health regions to expand the use of videoconferencing technology and other specialized equipment to enable direct medical consultation without the need to have the health professional and patient in the same place.

"Our Telestroke program has already demonstrated many examples of faster diagnosis and treatment, as well as improved outcomes for stroke patients in rural Alberta," said Dave Hancock, Minister of Health and Wellness. "This investment will build on our strong Telehealth network that bridges the physical distance between patients and specialist services."

The Telestroke program supports the Alberta Provincial Stroke Strategy, which is a collaborative partnership between government, regional health authorities and the Alberta Heart and Stroke Foundation to reduce the rate of strokes and improve acute treatment, rehabilitation care and outcomes for patients.

"Alberta's Telestroke program is one of many revolutionary initiatives that are modernizing patient care across Canada," said Richard Alvarez, President and CEO of Canada Health Infoway, a not-for-profit organization which invests with public sector partners to accelerate electronic health records across Canada. "This project will provide patients with quick access to stroke diagnosis and treatment closer to home, resulting in improved outcomes and increased efficiency."

Improving stroke care supports Premier Ed Stelmach's plan to improve Albertans' quality of life. Other priorities for the government are to: govern with integrity and transparency, manage growth pressures, build a stronger Alberta and provide safe and secure communities.

For more information, please visit Alberta's Telestroke Program website