Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Province of Alberta's "Netcare" EHR

The Alberta Netcare EHR is a secure lifetime record of an Albertan's key health information available for consultation by authorized health service providers. It is not a patient's full health or medical record.

Today, many physicians, pharmacists and other health service providers are recording information about their patients electronically, rather than in paper files. This information may be stored in a local electronic medical record or in a clinical information system. Labs, pharmacies, diagnostic services and community clinics are also capturing and storing information electronically.

Alberta Netcare EHR captures several key data elements from these clinical records for inclusion in a patient's provincial electronic health record. The information elements that are part of the Alberta Netcare EHR include:
• Personal demographic information that helps to uniquely identify each patient
• Prescribed dispensed drugs
• Known allergies and intolerances
• Immunizations
• Laboratory test results
• Diagnostic imaging reports
• Other medical reports

The information available for access by an Alberta Netcare EHR Portal authorized health service provider varies according to the access permissions assigned to that provider. Alberta Netcare EHR Portal also offers authorized health service providers several decision support tools including:
• Drug-to-drug and drug-to-allergy interaction alerts to avoid prescriptions that conflict
• A database of all available drugs and their common dosages
• Links to information support such as Clinical Guidelines from the Alberta Medical Association.

Contents of the EHR are maintained and updated in two ways:
• Primarily, information is automatically accessed and captured from the existing electronic data systems of pharmacies, labs, regional clinics and diagnostic services. This means that this information is not re-keyed or re-entered by anyone, it is gathered from source systems. Our partners in this process include all the health regions and the Alberta Cancer Board,
• Additionally, some information can be entered directly into a record by an Alberta Netcare authorized health service provider.

Benefits of the Alberta Netcare EHR
The Alberta Netcare EHR improves the quality and safety of care:

a) For Patients
• Providing more accurate and up-to-date medical information about a patient.
• Presenting this information immediately at the point of care which reduces delays in treatment, helps to ensure the most appropriate treatment decisions are made, and improves health outcomes.
• Reducing the possibility of medical error by improving the completeness, accuracy and clarity of medical records accessed at the point of care.
• Streamlining the secure sharing of health information between health service providers to improve the quality of patient care.
• Giving authorized health service providers a common understanding of a patient's health condition, preventing unnecessary treatments and adverse events, such as harmful prescription drug interactions.
• Reducing unnecessary duplication of tests, such as lab work.

b) For Authorized Health Service Providers
• The Alberta Netcare EHR provides access to available information at the point of care. It gives health service providers access to key patient information along with online decision support and reference tools. It also helps reduce the possibility of medical errors, assists with compliance issues, and decreases the potential for adverse drug reactions. Features like lab value trends and drug monographs also help with patient consultations.

Additional information on Alberta’s Netcare EHR.

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