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Lab systems

B.C. announces plan for online laboratory network

VICTORIA – British Columbia’s Ministry of Health has posted a Joint Solutions Request for Proposal to the BC Bid website for a partner to build, implement and operate a Provincial Laboratory Information Solution network (PLIS).

The project will see the creation of a network of health records that will eventually link laboratories, clinics, hospitals, pharmacies and other places where patients access healthcare.

The lab network will allow care providers to access clinical laboratory information – results, lab orders and decision support – at the point of patient care anywhere in B.C.

According to the Ministry, this will increase efficiency, enhance clinical decision-making and reduce duplication of tests in the laboratory system.

The PLIS will be one of the major contributors helping to develop the foundation for electronic health records and the provincial eHealth strategy. Under the leadership of Health Minister George Abbott (pictured), the province has launched a 10-year strategic plan to implement an integrated system of electronic e-health systems.

The eHealth strategy will give patients access to safer, higher-quality services through the timely availability of their health information; and will give care providers the correct and necessary information.

The joint solution process combines the capability and creativity of the public and private sector. A system provider is expected to be selected by the end of the year, with implementation in late 2006/07 and rollout in 2007/08.

One of the investors in B.C.’s eHealth program is Canada Health Infoway, a federal, non-profit organization with the mandate to accelerate the development of electronic health information systems across Canada.

The cost and length of the contract for the PLIS project will be part of negotiations with potential partners. Costs will be shared between the Province and Canada Health Infoway.

In 2002/03, there were 37 million tests performed in B.C.’s medical labs – 22 million in the Province’s public laboratories and 15 million in private labs.

The aims of the system include:

• Immediate physician access to laboratory results, enabling more timely and effective clinical decision making.

• Clinician access to historical laboratory test results across the Province, reducing needless duplication.

• Improved efficiency of laboratory test ordering and results distributions.

• Integration of private and health authority public laboratories into the Provincial Laboratory Information Solution.

• Enhanced continuity and consistency of care between care providers, in terms of sharing lab results.

• Direct link of the Provincial Public Health Laboratory communicable disease information into the integrated Public Health Information System.

A key component for the Province’s eHealth strategy is safeguarding patient privacy and confidentiality. The contract with the service provider will comply with the Province’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. This ensures all patient information is protected by privacy measures.

In addition, access to patient information will be restricted to those having a clear right and need to access personal health information or to access the systems where the information resides.