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Two healthcare projects win productivity awards

TORONTO – Two innovative healthcare projects were among the winners at the Canadian Information Productivity Awards, held earlier this month.

CIPA, Canada’s oldest and largest awards program in the field of information technology, presented a total of 24 awards for excellence before a black-tie audience of about 800 senior executives from across Canada during the 14th annual CIPA Gala Banquet.

SIMS Partnership

For its exceptional application of information technology to transform its processes and bring benefits to stakeholders, the Toronto-based SIMS Partnership was awarded a 2006 CIPA Silver Award of Excellence in the Exceptional Innovation, Not For Profit category. The major technology partner for the project is Misys Healthcare Systems.

With an annual operating budget in excess of $1.3 billion, SIMS (Shared Information Management Services) is a partnership of seven healthcare organizations in Toronto that was created to achieve innovation in information management and information technology to support improved care delivery.

Its Emergency Room Notification project is a joint initiative between two SIMS partners – the University Health Network (UHN) and the Toronto Community Care Access Centre (TCCAC).

By integrating a number of systems, Emergency Departments at the Toronto General Hospital and Toronto Western Hospital have been able to more quickly review the medical histories of patients who have been re-admitted to the ER. When their conditions can be more appropriately handled by the CCAC, they’re also able to quickly alert administrators at the CCAC through the use of BlackBerry devices. They were also able to improve the transfer of patients by replacing a time-consuming paper process with an electronic solution, thereby reducing crowding in the ER.

Pictured above are: (l to r) Heather Garnett, Project Manager, Shared Information Management Services; Deborah Rosser, Vice President and Publisher, Rogers Consumer Publisher (presenting the award); and Camille Orridge, Executive Director, Toronto Community Access Centre.

Continuum Medical Care

Winning a gold award in the Customer Care Category, For Profit, was Continuum Medical Care, a primary-care clinic based in Vancouver. Its technology partners are Wolf Medical Systems Inc., Basic Business Systems, Toshiba of Canada and Microsoft Canada Co.

With more than 35,000 patients and 30 family physicians and specialists, Continuum is one of the largest medical practices in British Columbia.

Continuum’s model – bringing a variety of medical practitioners and services together into a single facility to address a variety of healthcare needs – is rooted in the increasing dissatisfaction that doctors were having in trying to deliver full-service family medicine in a system that did not reward this type of care financially.

The goal of the Continuum model is to make it viable, financially and from a lifestyle perspective, to attract and retain family physicians who can deliver excellence in full-service medical care.

To maximize the performance of its internal operations, Continuum implemented an electronic medical record (EMR) system that enables physicians and staff to track, monitor and manage clinical information.

The system enables physicians to access patient records, enter notes or order lab tests or prescriptions at bedside or in exam rooms, using a wireless tablet PC, for example, or perform many non-billable tasks from home such as charting and writing referral letters by accessing the EMR system via the Internet.

With physicians who have different charting styles being brought together into one location, the EMR system presents information such as allergies, medical problems, medications and recent visits in a consistent, standard way. The EMR system is also integrated with a drug interaction database.

The system automates an array of clinical and administrative functions. For example, referral letters, with all the accompanying background information, are automatically generated using the patient visit notes from within the system and directly sent electronically to staff for processing.

Lab test results are automatically added to the patient’s record within the system, where they can be easily accessed by physicians and compared with previous results. Physician schedules are also managed within the system for easy update and so that physicians can review them from anywhere, including home.

With all patient information, exam notes, test results, diagnostic images and drug therapy history maintained within the system for each patient, it’s a simple matter for physicians to prepare a complete patient history to share with other medical practitioners who may be involved in the patient’s care.

The EMR has been essential to Continuum’s success to date, giving them the ability to more effectively manage their practice, better utilize space, and relieve physicians of cumbersome administrative duties so that they are free to practice medicine and deliver enhanced care to their patients.

“Canadian competitiveness and productivity continue to be critical factors that will affect our nation’s long-term economic health,” said Michael Roach, President and Chief Executive Officer of CGI, the Managing Sponsor of CIPA. “To prosper and compete in the global economy, Canadian organizations must continue to seek ways to be more innovative.

“In an impressive variety of ways, CIPA winners have demonstrated that innovative thinking leads to IT-enabled business solutions. These solutions improve the competitive health of their respective organizations and in turn, set an important example for others in Canada’s private and public sectors to follow.”