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Integration

Kingston area doctors gain EHR links to hospitals

KINGSTON, Ont. – An innovative project involving the sharing of electronic health records between primary care physicians and acute care hospitals has been launched in southeast Ontario. The South East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), eHealth Ontario, Kingston General Hospital (KGH), Hotel Dieu Hospital (HDH) and the Maple Family Health Team are collaborating in the efforts to produce higher quality, safer care for patients while reducing the amount of paper used.

The hospital to family health team integration initiative is one of three significant eHealth milestones being celebrated in the South East, as the entire region edges closer to an electronic health record. A similar project is also under way between Quinte Health Care and the Prince Edward Family Health Team. The third project involves a Lean-based Kaizen project to improve workflow processes between family health teams in the Brockville area and their acute care hospital.

The South East LHIN’s eHealth office received one-time funding to work with stakeholders on the aggressive project to integrate systems between the hospitals and family health team. By building on similar interface projects in other areas, the initiative was completed and launched May 26. Today, primary care providers are able to better care for their patients given they can access patients’ most current health information. Once fully implemented, it is estimated the new interface may cut up to 60 percent of paper reports currently provided to Maple Family Health Team.

The South East LHIN solution is based on xwaveEMR, an Internet-based application service provider solution that enables easy integration with other healthcare systems and ensures compliance with secure eHealth Ontario communication channels and international data standards like HL7.

The result is near real-time delivery of hospital information to the family health team – everything from discharge summaries and surgical reports to specialist notes and diagnostic imaging results.

xwave’s interface engine sorts all of it and sends it to the appropriate physician’s EMR desktop and patient chart. Information remains consistent – there are no new workflows for physicians to learn, and they don’t have to remember to open an application or check an in-box – the information is pushed right onto their desktop.

“Technology itself is not a panacea,” says Paul Huras, Chief Executive Officer of the South East LHIN. “Simply applying 21st century technology on top of 20th century workflow does not make sense – that is why it is so important we look at our processes and really think about what we are doing, and why we are doing it. That is what health system transformation is all about.”

“A vision for the Maple Family Health Team is an integrated patient health record that addresses both the need for privacy and the need for timely access by a variety of healthcare professionals,” says Dr. Rick Milner, lead physician of the Maple Family Health Team. “We see this collaboration with our local hospitals and the LHIN as being an important step in realizing this vision.”

“Kingston General Hospital is pleased and excited to be on the ground floor of this exciting eHealth project that strengthens existing collaborations between primary healthcare providers and our hospitals,” says Leslee Thompson, President and CEO, KGH. “It is an important first step in closing gaps and ensuring increased communication among all healthcare providers to ensure our patients receive the best, most seamless care.”

“Hotel Dieu Hospital is excited about participating in a project that makes the vital electronic link between hospital and community physicians,” says Dr. David Pichora, interim CEO at Hotel Dieu Hospital. “We want patients who visit our specialized clinics or diagnostic services to have the timeliest follow-up possible. By making specialists’ medical reports and test results instantly and directly available to primary health caregivers, the xwaveEMR boosts the integration of hospital and community care to a higher level.”

“The LHIN is pleased to partner with hospitals and local Family Health Teams to put in place technology that securely shares patient information,” says Paul McAuley, Chief Information Officer for the South East LHIN. “This project is a great example of how technology can improve patient care by delivering the right information to the physician at the right time. Pilot initiatives permit us to use the technology in a controlled and secure manner to prove the impact it can have in care while ensuring that information is properly secured. Through the efforts of eHealth Ontario and our local health-care providers, we will continue to improve the sharing of information both amongst providers and with citizens and their families.”

“Our partnership with the South East LHIN builds on both a proven EMR and 30 years of systems integration experience that allows us to go beyond installing the family health team’s EMR to connecting it to the many hospital systems in the LHIN,” said Chan Ghosh, Director, Operations with xwave Healthcare. “Automating the flow of clinical data between hospital and FHT is a tremendous enabler in terms of removing paper silos and making information available in minutes rather than days. This kind of integration is setting new benchmarks for access and care, and there will be more projects like it to come.”

Officially called the “Hospital to Family Health Team Integration Initiative,” the project received one-time funding under the province’s physician eHealth demonstration initiative. Proposals under this initiative were expected to:

• Build awareness, demonstrate value and promote physician participation and collaboration among healthcare providers

• Advance the provincial eHealth strategy and advance physician use of technology

• Provide immediate value to community physicians along with the necessary change management support to assist physicians

• Provide lessons learned from the initiatives to inform the implementation and change management planning for upcoming eHealth solutions.

The South East LHIN works closely with eHealth Ontario, a provincial agency created to harness information and technology to improve patient care in Ontario. The key priorities of eHealth Ontario include creating a diabetes registry that will ensure people with diabetes in the province are receiving the best care possible; establishing an e-prescribing system to eliminate hand-written prescriptions and reduce medication errors; and developing an e-health portal which will allow healthcare providers and patients to easily and securely access the health information they need to deliver and receive better care.

For more information about the South East LHIN, visit www.southeastlhin.on.ca

For more information about eHealth Ontario, visit www.ehealthontario.on.ca.

 

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