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NBGH first northern hospital to join eCHN

The North Bay General Hospital has become the first medical centre in Northern Ontario to join the electronic Child Health Network (eCHN). “We are delighted to be able to offer this service to patients in our area,” said Tiziana Silveri, vice president, maternal/child and surgery care centres at the hospital.

“The North Bay General Hospital has been a leader technologically in the past with the telerobotics program, and once again, we are leading the way for the north with this new endeavour,” she added.

eCHN Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Szende (pictured at left), shared his thoughts about making this service available to patients served by North Bay General Hospital. “This hospital was an ideal place for us to begin to orchestrate this service for the north. The Information Technology department is very skilled at this hospital,” he said. “It is a pleasure to to introduce eCHN to this community.”

“We are proud to say that in its short life, eCHN’s database has 204,317 patients; 891,512 hospital visits; 4.3 million electronic reports and 26 hospitals in Toronto, Northern Ontario and Ottawa participating,” said Szende. “In the future, we hope to complete the eCHN north project; add three more academic health science centres (Hamilton, London, Kingston); open up to Ontario’s paediatricians and Family Health Networks; add specialized cardiac and oncology users and functionalities, and by 2007 have the entire provincial network complete.”

The electronic Child Health Network (eCHN) is Canada’s first functioning, integrated and shared electronic health record (EHR), which was launched by the Hospital for Sick Children in 1999.

Healthcare experts, including former Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow and federal Senator Michael Kirby, agree that EHRs help to improve the quality of health services and reduce duplication and medical errors.

eCHN has been designed for children from birth to age 18. The goal of eCHN is to ensure that a paediatric patient’s integrated chart is available to healthcare providers wherever the patient may be – in hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, and chronic or rehabilitation sites. As well, eCHN strives to create an electronic health record that will integrate data from many different information systems, at many different locations, into a single, integrated, shared view.

From a frontline medical perspective, “I find eCHN extremely easy to access,” said family physician Dr. Wendy Graham. “If I want to order tests or review test results that were done at another facility, in another city, the information is at my fingertips.”

Having an electronic health record with eCHN means a reduction in the number of repeat tests for kids; improved patient outcomes (including less inconvenience and fewer delays in treatment); lower cost, based on time savings and less duplication of tests; and as well, it is a model for future electronic health records for adults

One of Dr. Graham’s patients, Mrs. Laura Letto and her daughter Annie Leder, recently attended a press conference to help demonstrate the difference eCHN has made in their lives. “We regularly deal with physicians in Toronto and in North Bay. It is much better for us not having to repeat tests or wait for test results to be mailed home. Our family physician, Dr. Graham, is able to access the information she needs right while we’re in her office,” said Letto.

The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care has been a major supporter of eCHN, with an investment to date of $21 million.

Nipissing MPP Monique Smith discussed the positive effect eCHN is having on the healthcare system. “eCHN’s electronic health record supports and aligns with Ontario’s eHealth strategy and the Canada Health Infoway’s pan-Canadian electronic health record (EHR) strategy,” said Smith. “It offers authorized healthcare providers access to relevant patient health information that is secure and shareable. When professionals have quick access to information, patient care is better, safer and more effective.”