Monday, January 14, 2008

Mississauga's William Osler Health Centre goes high-tech with patients' records

The Brampton Guardian | Monday December 24 2007 | PETER CRISCIONE

BRAMPTON - William Osler Health Centre (WOHC) is among three hospital sites in southern Ontario equipped with the ability to share patient data through a new web-based electronic healthcare record (EHR) viewer.

Agfa HealthCare, a leading provider of IT-enabled clinical workflow and diagnostic imaging solutions, unveiled recently new technology (their Clinical Dashboard platform) that allow's users to easily access critical patient information from any personal computer, handheld, or tablet PC with Internet access. For instance, data at WOHC's Etobicoke and Brampton sites can be retrieved and shared with Halton Healthcare Services (Oakville, Milton, Georgetown) and Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga.

This eHealth portal (EHR Viewer) solution serves the nearly one million residents living in the communities of Brampton, Etobicoke and Georgetown.

"Agfa's proven federated portal model is a 'win-win' situation for hospitals - simple in premise, and deployed at a fraction of the time and cost of competitors, with immediate return on investment," said Dieter Pagani, director of Agfa HealthCare's Enterprise Solutions Group. "These hospitals are truly eHealth leaders in Ontario, and have taken a quantum-leap towards eliminating the traditional barriers associated with sharing data." Company officials say this vendor-agnostic technology promises to fundementally alter the Canadian healthcare landscape.

Agfa HealthCare's eHealth solutions are customized to meet the needs of each hospital and their unique stakeholders, "and built on a complimentary core foundation that is web-based, scalable, extensible and focused on delivering fast return on investment." The new technology ensures all three sites (including Credit Valley Hospital and Halton Health) can securely share all patient records---regardless of IT systems or vendors.

"This makes us trailblazers," said Judy Middleton, Chief Information Officer for WOHC. "If a physician has a patient at Osler, and the patient says 'I've been at Oakville or I've been at Credit Valley', then all the information from their visits will be accessible by the physician. So in terms of expediting treatment and care, you have much more information (at your disposal)."

Middleton said other hospitals in the Central West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN,) of which WOHC is a part of, are taking steps to adopt this innovative technology. In achieving this level of interoperability, William Osler will be able to reduce duplication and errors, while increasing the level of accuracy of information in terms of diagnosis, Middleton said.

[Original Article]

Friday, January 11, 2008

Canada Health Infoway negotiates preferred solution agreement with electronic health record (EHR) viewer provider

Toronto, January 10, 2008 - Canada Health Infoway (Infoway) today announced it has negotiated preferential conditions and pricing with Orion Health through a Preferred Solution Agreement for their Concerto Physician Portal, an EHR viewer.

EHR viewers are secure web-based applications that integrate patient information from various sources into a single record, unique to each patient.

"We are making great progress towards the modernization of Canadian patients' health information and that means more and more clinical data is being captured and stored electronically," said Richard Alvarez, President and CEO of Canada Health Infoway, the federally-funded, independent not-for-profit organization which invests with public sector partners to accelerate electronic health records across Canada. "The EHR viewer is a vital tool for clinicians because it is the electronic gateway to the information clinicians rely on to make appropriate care decisions for their patients."

The Canada-wide agreement will help accelerate the implementation of electronic health records, making it simpler for provinces and territories to acquire a health record viewer solution.

An EHR viewer eliminates the need for health care practitioners to learn multiple computer interfaces and improves accuracy by bringing information from across numerous systems into one familiar screen that is customizable for each user's requirement. These systems have many benefits when implemented in a standards-based environment.

Infoway's Preferred Solution Agreements show that participating vendors like Orion have a deep understanding of the pan-Canadian EHR and the need to adopt established standards to ensure interoperability. While Infoway believes that these agreements offer significant value, the selection of specific vendors rests with the individual province or territory.

[Original Article]

About Canada Health Infoway
Infoway is an independent not-for-profit organization that invests with public sector partners across Canada to implement and reuse compatible health information systems which support a safer, more efficient healthcare system. Fully respecting patient confidentiality, these private and secure systems provide healthcare professionals with rapid access to complete and accurate patient information, enabling better decisions about diagnosis and treatment. The result is a sustainable, health care system offering improved quality, accessibility and productivity.

- 30 -

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

William Osler Health Centre’s Clinical Portal (EHR Viewer) Sets Connectivity Standard in Ontario

This article reprinted with permission from Medseek's eHealth Success Stories

In 2005, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care required William Osler Health Centre to transfer one of its hospitals to the Mississauga-Halton Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). Osler Health needed to provide physicians with real-time access to clinical information so that the continuity of care would not be disrupted during the transfer period and beyond. The most cost-effective and least complex solution was to build and deploy a clinical portal, and Osler turned to MEDSEEK due to the company’s reputation for reliability and service. Osler’s trust in MEDSEEK was extended when it rolled out their Rapid Electronic Access to Clinical Health information (R.E.A.C.H.) eHealth Portal in 2006.

The REACH eHealth Portal (EHR Viewer) has been extremely well received by physicians, in large part because the health system made sure to enlist their assistance and support from the start.

"From a quality perspective, more clinicians are using it and it is allowing them to access all the information they need to make patient care decisions faster, which ultimately affect clinical outcomes for the better," - Elizabeth Nemeth, RN, BScN, MN, project manager of the REACH and MD-Net portals

“A CIO can develop the vision, but if he or she doesn’t have physician and clinician champions along the way that vision is all for naught,” said Judy Middleton, chief information officer at Osler. “It’s really important to involve key individuals and end-users. They will let you know whether you are heading in the right direction and whether the information you’re providing is useful and meaningful to them. At the end of the day that’s what’s important.”

Although the divestiture provided the immediate spark that led Osler to launch a portal, the health system, one of the largest in Ontario, had been considering using a portal as a strategic tool to improve patient care and foster closer ties with physicians, patients, consumers and employees.

"It was part of the overall vision of the organization to provide access anywhere anytime to patient information over the Web,” Middleton said. “The master plan was already there and the Ministry of Health provided the impetus for us to make it happen sooner rather than later.”

Portals Improve Data Flow and Clinical Outcomes
Since its debut, REACH has been so successful that it led Osler to expand access in October 2007 to all nurses and allied health personnel. “From a quality perspective, more clinicians are using it and it is allowing them to access all the information they need to make patient care decisions faster, which ultimately affect clinical outcomes for the better,” said Elizabeth Nemeth, RN, BScN, MN, project manager of the R.E.A.C.H. and MD-Net portals at William Osler.

Due to its strategic nature and clinical impact, R.E.A.C.H. was expanded to the Peel and Halton regions, and just this past fall William Osler Health Centre welcomed clinicians at Credit Valley Hospital to the REACH portal. The successful collaboration between six physical hospital sites means all of their clinical stakeholders have instant access to patient health information stored electronically at any of the hospitals---regardless of legacy vendor platform.

"It was part of the overall vision of the organization to provide access anywhere anytime to patient information over the Web," - Judy Middleton, chief information officer at William Osler

The R.E.A.C.H. eHealth portal network provided federated access to over 90,000 inpatient stays and 1,050,000 outpatient visits for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2007. Patient stays and visits from all hospitals are consolidated into one, intuitive Web portal.

The REACH initiative (EHR "Viewer" based on Canada Health Infoway's designation) allows authorized users secure access to longitudinal patients information via a secure web-browser, whether inside and outside of the native hospital environment. This means records are both transferable and comprehensive. As patients move between regional facilities for different diagnostic tests and procedures, data like lab and diagnostic test results, images, transcriptions and progress reports written at one hospital can be viewed immediately by a physician treating the patient, on a subsequent visit, at any of the associated REACH facilities.

William Osler Health also plans to extend regional stakeholders a patient portal in the near future. While the organization’s Web site currently only extends minimal patient self-services ( bill payment,) the planned patient portal will offer patient stakeholders a richer menu of services such as online access to laboratory and test results, online appointment scheduling, and much more. Creating this portal, however, is particularly challenging because William Osler serves one of the most ethnically diverse populations in Canada.

“We are proceeding carefully because we want to be culturally sensitive and make sure that we do this right,” Middleton stated. “With each portal, we try to create a similar look and feel so the portals don’t look very different from each other but still meet the unique needs of the various end-users.”

"William Osler’s positive experience with REACH has also attracted the attention of the Province of Ontario's Ministry of Health. The Ministry is weighing whether other local health integration networks (LHIN's) in the Province should use it as a model for electronically exchanging information within their individual organization", Middleton said.

[Original article]