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Ontario expands use of hydro to carry health data

TORONTO – Smart Systems for Health Agency (SSHA) and Hydro One Telecom are collaborating to improve healthcare information flow and patient care.

Hydro One Telecom will provide the dedicated core section to SSHA’s telecommunications network. It will serve as the foundation of SSHA’s overall network service, which is used by healthcare institutions and professionals across Ontario to share patient information securely and reliably. When fully deployed, SSHA’s network will be the largest private, high-performance network in Ontario.

This collaboration represents a major upgrade to SSHA’s network in terms of bandwidth and security. SSHA will continue to work with a wide range of telecommunications providers to connect thousands of healthcare professionals to this new core network.

Linda Weaver, SSHA Chief Technology Officer, says: “Meeting the current and rapidly growing network needs of healthcare in Ontario means we partner with many network suppliers, taking advantage of their areas of expertise.”

A pilot implementation for the new network is the six hospitals in the Huron Perth Region. It is used to move electronic Diagnostic Images (DI), which replace traditional film images.

Babette MacRae, Project Director, Southwest Ontario DI Project, says: “This is a new way of doing things, as we did not have the bandwidth to do it before. Patients benefit because they now have access to specialists nearby or in London to view and evaluate their images. In the past we had to courier film from one location to another.”

Grey Bruce Health Services, South Bruce Grey Health Centre and Hanover and District Hospital – a twelve hospital site early adopter group – is using the network to improve the performance of its Voice over Internet Protocol(VoIP) phone system. It is also using the network to send DI from rural hospital sites without radiologists to hospital sites where these specialists work. Rob Croft, Corporate Director, System Integration and Projects, says: “At our rural sites, it now takes one hour for a radiologist to receive, read and report on an x-ray. Previously, it took 48-60 hours to receive a report.”

William Albino, SSHA CEO, commented: “This is good news for patients. It is a dramatic step up for us in terms of value for our healthcare clients. By working together, we are able to meet the goals of network reliability, availability, security, cost-effectiveness, and flexibility to meet growing needs in a way that makes the most sense.”

“We are pleased that Hydro One Telecom’s network can be used in this initiative to extend services across the province,” said Paul Marchant, President, Hydro One Telecom.