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Government & policy

NB’s new health plan includes e-Health projects

FREDERICTON – New Brunswick announced that more than $154 million will be invested in new and enhanced health services over the next four years as part of a new Provincial Health Plan.

Health Minister Michael Murphy (pictured) said the investment would be over and above the estimated $9 billion in funding required to maintain existing health services over that period.

“Our new health plan sets the course for the transformation of our health system so that it will meet the needs of patients today and in the future,” Murphy said. “It is a system that puts patients first and will be sustainable for future generations.”

In fiscal 2008-09, more than $40 million will be invested in initiatives contained in the Provincial Health Plan.

Transforming New Brunswick’s Health-care System: the Provincial Health Plan, 2008-2012, and a companion document on all the initiatives that are part of the health plan are available online at

A major thrust of the plan includes continued development of the province’s e-health strategy, including the One Patient One Record electronic health record. New Brunswick’s upcoming e-health projects include:

• One Patient One Record (OPOR): Initiatives are under way to develop and implement elements of an electronic patient record that will eventually allow information from hospitals, doctors’ offices, Public Health, Mental Health, pharmacies, laboratories and diagnostic imaging to be linked together and accessed by authorized care providers anywhere in the health-care system.

The first components to be implemented include an interoperable electronic health record repository, a patient registry, a provider registry, a diagnostic imaging archive, a full drug information system and a pan-Canadian health surveillance system, as well as selected tele-health initiatives. These systems are the key building blocks in our vision of One Patient One Record.

• Enhanced Access to Quality Health-care Services Across New Brunswick Using Tele-health: This will be accomplished through the planning and implementation of a provincial scheduling and videoconferencing bridge for tele-health.

• Electronic Patient Self-management Support (Pilot Project): A pilot project will be undertaken to provide participants with web-based access to a personal health and wellness record in order to support self-management of health problems. These records will have the capacity to store personal health management information such as medications, clinical lab results and other self-monitoring results such as blood pressure or blood sugars.

• Extra-Mural, Point-of-care Integrated Information and Communication Technology System: A new clinical information and remote monitoring system will be implemented to capture point-of-care information inputted from service providers or the client. This technology will be used to support the delivery of quality home healthcare services, as well as promoting client self-management. This will provide patients at home with monitoring equipment that will capture basic vitals like blood pressure and oxygen levels, as well as a health information system that Extra-Mural Program staff can use in the patient’s home.

• Decision Support Environmental Scan: A review of existing decision support tools such as electronic documentation templates, reminders, etc., will be undertaken to identify potential resources for integrating best practice guidelines in day-to-day primary healthcare settings.

“The greatest opportunities for improving New Brunswickers’ health and the sustainability of our healthcare system lie in helping people to be and stay healthy in the first place,” the minister said. “Our health system must evolve from a ‘find it and fix it’ approach to more of a ‘prevent it, find it and manage it’ philosophy.

“This means placing much greater emphasis on promoting healthy child and adolescent development, focusing more effort on problems such as mental health and addictions, continued enhancement of primary healthcare and strategies to prevent and better manage chronic diseases.”

Murphy said transformation of the healthcare system requires changing the way it does business.

“To do this, we must build a single, well-integrated provincial system - one that makes the best use of our human, infrastructure and financial resources,” he said. “We have already taken steps to modernize our organizational structures, including moving to two Regional Health Authorities in order to reduce costly duplication. Now, we need to focus on the clinical side of health care, which is what the new health plan is all about.”