Thursday, February 21, 2008

Nova Scotia embarks on province-wide EHR

HALIFAX – Contracts for major components of Nova Scotia’s electronic health record system were announced earlier this month by provincial Health Minister Chris d’Entremont.

The components include a secure health record storage and viewing system for patient information, which doctors and other healthcare workers can access when and where they need to. A client and provider registry will also be created to identify patients and healthcare providers, and to link medical records from multiple systems.

“These elements are foundational pieces for Nova Scotia’s electronic health record system,” said Mr. d’Entremont. “Healthcare professionals will be able to quickly access patients’ health records regardless of where in the province they are being cared for, whether it’s in an ER in Shelburne, or a specialist’s office in Sydney. The result will be better care, faster treatment and improved access to information.”

The province’s electronic health record system, called SHARE (Secure Health Access Record), will create an electronic health record for all Nova Scotians. The record will contain patients’ up-to-date health information to support decision-making and case management by healthcare providers.

The first phase of the SHARE system will be completed by Dec. 31, 2009 and will cost $28 million. Nova Scotia has partnered with Canada Health Infoway, which is contributing $17.8 million. The first phase will include patient information from the province’s three lab systems, the diagnostic imaging system and clinical records from provincial hospitals.

“Nova Scotia is making a significant leap towards providing every resident with an electronic health record,” 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 adoption of electronic health records across Canada.

“Having been one of the first provinces to go completely digital with X-ray images, Nova Scotia patients and clinicians have seen first-hand the benefits associated with this evolution. Today’s announcement is about keeping Nova Scotia at the forefront of electronic health record implementation in Canada.”

The Department of Health has signed agreements with Initiate Systems for its client and provider registry software, implementation services and training ($3.2 million), and McKesson Canada for its Horizon Physician Portal for the viewer and Horizon Care Record for the clinical repository for secure health record storage ($2.4 million).

A third contract has been awarded to a local consortium led by Sierra Systems, including xwave and the Barrington Consulting Group, to set up a project management office to oversee system integration ($5.3 million over two years).

Canada Health Infoway is leading the development and implementation of electronic health projects across Canada. Infoway works with provinces and territories to invest in electronic health projects, which support safer, more efficient healthcare delivery. Fully respecting patient confidentiality, these private and secure systems provide healthcare professionals with immediate access to complete and accurate patient information, enabling better decisions about diagnosis and treatment. The result is a sustainable healthcare system offering improved quality, accessibility, productivity and cost savings.

View the original article in Canadian Healthcare Technology Magazine.

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