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Physician IT

Capital Health to use Epic for ambulatory EMRs

EDMONTON – Capital Health has chosen Epic Systems, a leader in healthcare information technology, to implement an electronic medical record (EMR) and scheduling system that provides clinicians and patients one-stop access to ambulatory care services.

“Capital Health is excited to be teaming with Epic to develop Canada’s largest electronic medical record system,” said Sheila Weatherill (pictured), Capital Health President and CEO. “We want to enhance the level of standardization, patient safety and collaboration among providers by sponsoring a common EMR solution for Capital Health medical staff and for outpatient services.”

Targeted to begin in late 2006, this will be Epic’s largest, most comprehensive installation in Canada. The company has been rated highly for its software products and clinical information system implementations with large-sized, academic healthcare organizations.

With input from more than 300 physicians and clinicians, Epic was selected through a competitive process to develop a region-wide patient scheduling system (Cadence) that will allow referring physicians, clinicians and patients to locate and book the first available appointment anywhere within the region improving management of resources and wait times.

Epic will also develop an ambulatory electronic medical record (EpicCare) that will enhance information sharing among Capital Health facilities, Primary Care Networks and outpatient clinics to support more efficient care of patients.

To ensure both systems are compatible, the solution required a common database, results reporting, order entry, physician referral management (AffiliateLink), clinical decision support alerts and reminders, physician billing support, a patient portal (MyChart) and integration to other applications such as PACS and netCARE, Capital Health’s electronic health record.

MyChart will give patients quick access to their medical records and lab results as well as schedule appointments and request medical renewals. AffiliateLink gives referring physicians a secure link to follow the progress of their patients’ care while in a Capital Health facility.

“The gold standard for patient care is to have physicians – both within Capital Health and private practice – integrated on a single common IT platform,” adds Donna Strating, Capital Health Vice-President of Information Systems and Equipment and Chief Information Officer.

All ambulatory clinicians and physicians employed by or affiliated with Capital Health will have access to the electronic scheduling and charting system.

Family physicians and multidisciplinary primary care teams within the region will also have the option to use Capital Health as their EMR vendor. More than 40 percent of physicians in Alberta have automated offices thanks to a provincial EMR-funded program.

Strating says the EMR will complement netCARE, a web-based system that pulls key patient records from various sources across the province. The EMR will provide a patient’s complete medical record and also offers the interactive ability to order tests and analyze patient conditions. Key patient data in the EMR will also be included into netCARE, allowing acute and outpatient information to be available to authorized users.

Dr. Ernie Schuster, Family Physician at the Misericordia Community Hospital and Medical Director for Primary Care, says the EMR and EHR will complement each other to fulfill the needs of care providers and multidisciplinary teams. “The EMR will enhance the connectivity among ambulatory care sites and result in more efficient management of patients. Physicians and care providers can access all vital patient information regardless of where the information was collected within Capital Health.”

Capital Health sees more than two million out patients each year. Physicians in private offices see approximately 5,000 patients each per year. The scheduling system will go live in the summer of 2007 and the EMR will follow in late 2007.

About Capital Health
Capital Health in Edmonton is Canada’s largest health region and is affiliated with the University of Alberta, providing integrated health services to one million residents in Edmonton and the surrounding area. Capital Health acts as a referral centre to central and northern Alberta, the North and the Prairies, providing specialized services such as trauma and burn treatment, organ transplants and high-risk obstetrics.