Trillium launches Project THINK, using advanced I.T.
TORONTO and MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – Trillium Health Centre has announced
THINK, a $100 million project to improve the quality of patient care and
to reduce costs through the innovative use of information technologies.
THINK, short for Transforming Health Care into Integrated Networks of
Knowledge, is being run in alliance with eight of the world’s leading
technology companies, with IBM as the project manager.
The goal is not only to improve patient safety and the quality of care
inside hospitals, but to connect with referring physicians and other
community care providers.
The alliance partners are:
IBM – Project Manager and Integrator
Eclipsys – Clinical Systems
Cognos – Business Intelligence Systems
Courtyard – Records Integration Systems
Sybase – Database Architecture
Agfa – Electronic Imaging Management
EMC – Data Storage
IMS – Disease Management Systems
In a packed auditorium at Trillium, hospital executives and company
officials announced the initiative.
president Ken White (pictured at left) noted
that in today’s healthcare environment, providers “spend too much time
with paper, and not enough time with patients.”
He added that today’s computer networks are rudimentary and inefficient.
By contrast, Trillium is setting out to create the advanced,
computerized tools that will facilitate communication among healthcare
“Today’s healthcare model is much the same as it was a century ago, with
the hospital or the doctor’s office at the centre,” said White. “Our
goal is to transform today’s system and put the patient at the centre.”
White said that Trillium intends to develop standards that other
hospitals and healthcare providers will be able to use. “Voluminous
records will be available anywhere, anytime, to providers and patients.”
He said that patients, too, will be able to use the system – albeit not
in the initial phases of the project, but likely in three to four years.
“The patient will be empowered to make decisions, so he won’t feel less
important than the mounds of paper information that he’s surrounded by.”
White added that chronic care is becoming increasingly important in the
healthcare system, and that patients will need to tap into their records
to better monitor their own health and to update charts for the benefit
Trillium is allocating $100 million to THINK, over seven years, from its
own budget. White said that in recent years, the organization has been
allocating 3% to 4% of its annual operating budget to IT, and this will
likely rise to 5% in the coming years.
In contrast, the average hospital in Canada dedicates only 2% of the
annual operating budget to I.T., according to a recent study by Canadian
Healthcare Technology magazine.
White said he expects that various community partners will contribute to
the project in the future.
Rik Ganderton, of IBM Canada, said: “THINK is among the most advanced
healthcare technology projects in North America. It will extend the
walls of the hospital across the community. THINK will change how the
community sees its hospitals – not simply as buildings, but as a network
of medical knowledge integrated with the community itself.”
Overall, the goals of THINK are to:
• Integrate multiple healthcare records – from lab tests and radiology
to pharmacology and patient scheduling – into a single, electronic
• Subject to patient approval, enable instant distribution of patient
data to members of their health care team, no matter whether they are in
their offices or on mobile PDAs and tablet PCs in the patient’s hospital
room or home;
• Permit the healthcare team to track progress of discharged patients
online, enabling a continuum of care;
• Provide connectivity between the patient and their family with the
hospital, specialist, nurse, general practitioner, pharmacist, home care
worker, and others involved in the continuum of care;
• Reduce wait times for diagnoses and treatment;
• Empower the patient to schedule diagnostic and other procedures
• Allow health care workers to spend less time on paperwork and more
time with patients.
Under the terms of the alliance, the eight companies will work
cooperatively to develop integrated information systems for Trillium.
Each of the companies has committed to putting its staff experts at
Trillium, working side-by-side with the hospital team. Trillium will
define the goals, procedures and operating environment in which the
information systems must be made to work. Trillium also will test
applications in hospital settings.
“A sustainable healthcare system for Ontario requires that our hospitals
re-think service delivery in the context of finite resources and
increased demand,” said White. “The partners in THINK are tackling the
biggest challenge to Medicare since its inception: how best to use
technology to improve the quality, efficiency, and long-term
sustainability of health service delivery in our community and across
One of the first big projects for THINK is the implementation of
Computerized Physician Order Entry.
Dr. Norman Hill, acting chief of medical staff, said Trillium has
already done a great deal of preparation work for this. In particular,
over the past 18 months, the organization has created 150 order sets
based on best practices.
“Before, every doctor would create his or her own protocols,” said Dr.
Hill. “Now, everyone in the hospital will be able to use a standard
protocol, based on the best evidence.”
The protocols include components such as medications, lab tests, diet,
physiotherapy, and many others. He asserted that standardization, based
on the best medical knowledge and best practices of the day, will lead
to better outcomes for patients.
In addition, the computerized nature of the system will eliminate the
handwriting and keying-in that has traditionally plagued ordering
systems for drugs and tests, and that has led to medication errors and
other problems in the past.
He noted that Dr. Chris O’Connor, an ICU specialist, has led the charge
on CPOE order sets, chairing the committee. Order sets have now been developed for
most parts of the hospital.
For its part, Trillium Health Centre is one of Canada’s leading
community hospitals, with expanding tertiary care programs in cardiac
care, stroke, orthopedics and neurosurgery.
Serving over one million residents in Mississauga, Southwest Toronto and
from other communities across Ontario, Trillium has one of the busiest
Emergency services in the country, and the largest free-standing day
surgery centre in North America. The two-site facility is attracting
international attention for its innovative approach to the provision of
health care services.