Electronic medical record
eClinician makes primary care records
EDMONTON – Capital Health is
launching a region-wide electronic medical record to allow patients to
schedule appointments, look at their laboratory results and send simple
questions electronically to their doctors, according to a report in the
The eClinician system will also allow doctors in specialist clinics to
look at medical charts from family physicians. “It’s a very complex
thing to do,” said Dr. Allen Ausford, a doctor at the Meadowlark Clinic
and chief medical information officer for Capital Health.
Many people already think their electronic medical record – equivalent
to their doctors’ paper chart containing their medical history,
allergies, reasons for visits, referral notes and blood test results –
is shared among doctors, so that if patients end up in the emergency
ward, the information they gave their family doctor is available at the
click of the mouse in the hospital.
That’s not yet the case.
About 2,000 – or one-third – of Alberta doctors can electronically
access X-rays, results from blood tests or MRI scans from laboratories
through an electronic health record called NetCare. But NetCare doesn’t
give them access to any electronic medical notes made by other doctors
in their electronic files. That’s because even though 2,500 Alberta
physician have an emergency medical.
That means if a patient first sees her family doctor, then gets an
appointment at a fertility clinic or rushes to the emergency room, the
doctors at the clinic or hospital can’t look at her doctor’s
personalized medical notes. Because of that, the patient needs to repeat
the information about medication allergies and the tale of her troubles.
With Capital Health’s new $5-million- per-year eClinician system –
different from the province’s Physician Office System Program, which
gives individual doctors cash to buy their own systems – doctors and
clinics who voluntarily sign on will become part of a larger network.
At first, only day clinics – immunization and mental health clinics,
heart clinics in the Mazankowski Heart Institute and fertility clinics
in the Lois Hole Hospital for Women – will use the eClinician scheduling
system. It will allow receptionists to schedule various appointments at
multiple clinics without having to pick up the phone and juggle
If a patient is due for a cholesterol test, eClinician will notify the
doctor’s office, who in turn can remind the patient. The system will
first focus on new moms, who need regular reminding to have their
By the end of 2008, one million patients are expected to visit the
clinics with eClinician and 1,100 doctors, nurses, dieticians and
pharmacists will be able to look at their patients’ medical records,
depending on their security clearance level. An obesity specialist, a
dietician, a heart doctor and diabetes nurse could all look at the chart
of a patient getting care for several chronic diseases.
In theory, if a patient goes to one doctor’s office and gets a
prescription, then goes to another doctor and needs a different
prescription, the second doctor could sign on to eClinician, enter the
patient’s name and be warned the patient could experience medication
Such electronic communication could help avoid a situation like that
faced by actor Heath Ledger, who took a deadly cocktail of painkillers,
sedatives and antidepressants from various doctors.
“It’s going to improve the quality of care down the line,” said Dr.
Harvey Sternberg, a specialist in sports medicine whose clinic has an
electronic medical record. Those records can currently be shared among
57 doctors in the area’s primary care network, but only when a doctor
gives approval. Sharing will happen automatically with eClinician among
“Medicine is the last bastion of professions to become electronic,” Dr.
Sternberg said. “We’re going to catch up. It is the way of the future.”