Nova Scotia set to announce preferred solutions for
Next month, in November, Nova Scotia is expected to announce the
‘preferred software vendors’ for its Primary Health Care Information
System Program. The province is investing $4.1 million in the first
phase of a program to computerize its physician offices, and aims to
have 150 to 200 medical practices using computers and clinical software
Like Alberta, the provincial program in Nova Scotia is backing two types
of systems: a local client/server solution, with the server located in
the physician practice; and an ASP solution, in which an-offsite data
centre handles the needs of multiple doctors’ office using a private
One or two vendors are expected to be chosen as preferred providers of
client server solutions, while one vendor will be selected as the
preferred ASP provider.
At the moment, there are four vendors who have been short-listed for
client/server solution, and another four under consideration for the ASP
Nova Scotia officials have been conducting a rigorous due diligence
process to assess the various solutions. They are seeking the
application that best suits the needs of the province.
Unlike physician IT programs in Alberta and Ontario, in which
governments are splitting the cost of computerizing with qualifying
physicians, Nova Scotia intends to pay the whole shot – at least in the
initial stages of the program, including equipment, training and change
Nova Scotia’s Primary Health care IS Program is a component of a $17
million effort to improve the delivery of primary care in the province.
The funding has been supplied through Health Canada’s Primary Health
Care Transition Fund.
The goal of the technology project is to increase the use of electronic
patient records among family doctors and general practitioners in Nova
Scotia, and thereby obtain all of the attendant benefits – such as
faster access to lab results, higher accuracy on patient charts and
prescriptions, and work process improvement for physicians.
The electronic record system that Nova Scotia intends to implement will
• encounter progress notes;
• electronic prescribing;
• automated chart summary;
• lab investigation management;
• work queue for managing a ‘to do’ list;
• electronic scheduling;
• claims processing.
In order to qualify for the program, Nova Scotia physician practices
must meet the following criteria.
• Clinics must implement the electronic patient record from the list of
preferred software vendors. Those that have already implemented
information systems and want to expand to include the electronic patient
record are also able to participate in the project. They will have to
demonstrate how they use funds from the primary health care transition
fund if funds were available to them.
• Clinics must include at least two primary healthcare providers.
Providers do not have to work from the same site. Providers could
potentially be working remotely but all must be accessing the same
electronic patient records.
• The clinic must be the patient’s main source of primary healthcare
services. A community health centre with a variety of healthcare
providers would satisfy these criteria, whereas a walk-in clinic would
• The entire clinic must support the transition. Support staff and
clinical staff must be made aware of what this change implies and must
be willing to commit to the change.
The Primary Health Care Information Program is also developing a change
management program to assist the clinics with system implementation. The
services will include a variety of tools, templates, guides and training
exercises to help introduce information technology into primary
Clinics interested in participating are asked to identify a provider
champion willing to guide and lead the clinic through the implementation
process. Change champions will receive specialized training to
successfully implement and manage primary healthcare information systems