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Emergency services

Enhanced emergency care for Nova Scotians

HALIFAX – Immediate access to patient information in an emergency is becoming more efficient in Nova Scotia, thanks to a unique collaboration between the Department of Health, Canadian MedicAlert Foundation and Canada Health Infoway.

The project is a first for Canada.

“This is an important initiative for Nova Scotia and a first step for Canada,” said Health Minister Karen Casey. “We know that providing the right information at the right time helps medical professionals to make informed decisions that can affect treatment.”

The project will allow paramedics to access the MedicAlert Emergency Health Record from ambulances and include it as part of the electronic patient care record. The software used for electronic patient care record, developed by Medusa Medical Technologies, was introduced in 2007 and is used by paramedics to chart the care they provide to patients from the field. It is expected that the MedicAlert information will be available to paramedics by the fall of this year.

Currently, there are more than 43,500 Nova Scotians enrolled with MedicAlert, a national charity. They are people of all ages with chronic medical conditions (such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma), allergies, medical implants or special needs.

“MedicAlert members provide us with a detailed medical history. Our unique expertise in distilling this data gives us the ability to provide information with the highest relevance for medical emergencies, in a summarized form, instantaneously,” said Robert Ridge, president and CEO of MedicAlert. “This critical medical information will now be available to paramedics while en route to see the patient, saving precious time during emergencies.”

“I applaud Nova Scotia and MedicAlert for collaborating on an innovative solution that will help provide timely and accurate patient information to clinicians during emergencies,” said Richard Alvarez, president and CEO, Canada Health Infoway. “This initiative is part of the implementation of electronic health record systems underway in every province and territory across Canada.”

This model will be used to provide other health care professionals, such as emergency room staff, with timely and secure access to MedicAlert information. “Improving information sharing between health providers is important for the health of Nova Scotians and for improving the efficiency of the overall system,” said Ms. Casey, the minister of health.

“One in five Canadians has a condition that should be known in an emergency situation,” said Mr. Ridge. “This innovative program will enable medical professionals to hear Nova Scotians when they cannot speak for themselves.”

The project will cost about $625,000. The Department of Health will provide about $12,000 a year. Infoway is contributing $475,000 and MedicAlert is investing $150,000.

The Canadian MedicAlert Foundation is the largest membership-based registered charity in Canada with more than one million members. More information about MedicAlert is available at

Canada Health Infoway is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government. Infoway jointly invests with every province and territory to accelerate the development and adoption of electronic health record projects in Canada.