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Physician IT

Nova Scotia wins GTEC award for lab results project

Nova Scotia’s electronic medical record program, called Primary Healthcare Information Management (PHIM), won a gold medal at the recent GTEC 2008 awards. The annual awards honour innovation and leadership in the application of electronic solutions in the public sector.

The ceremony was held at the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec, near the Parliament buildings in Ottawa.

In the photo above,
from left: Lisa Napier(PHIM Program Manager), Michael Waugh (Concertia Technologies), Eleanor Campbell (HITS-NS, PHIM Service Delivery Manager), John MacCallum (Nova Scotia Department of Health IS4 Senior Project Manager).

The PHIM program was recognized for its leading-edge eResults project, which delivers laboratory test results directly into the electronic medical records of patients. The rapid delivery of results, bypassing the traditional use of fax and phone, allows physicians to provide faster care to patients with higher quality information.

Nova Scotia is one of the few jurisdictions in Canada to have successfully connected labs with physicians using electronic patient records. What’s more, it was done quickly – the project began in January 2006, went into pilot phase in August 2006, and was then rolled out across the province in January 2007.

About 33% of Nova Scotia’s primary care physicians are now using an electronic medical record – a rapid uptake from just 4% in 2005. Most of them are using a hosted EMR solution supplied by Nightingale Informatix, which won a competition to supply electronic systems to doctors across the province.

Nightingale worked closely with PHIM to establish interfaces to five large Laboratory Information Systems, which operate in hospitals throughout the province.

Quick access to lab results has proven useful to the doctors who have implemented an EMR – so much so that it is driving further adoption of electronic medical record systems.

“Our doctors are acquiring EMRs so they can get access to this,” said Lisa Napier, PHIM Program Manager. “It’s an extremely useful tool. It gives them the information they need faster than ever before. And that’s allowing them to provide better care to patients.”

Napier said the system gives the family doctors secure access to results wherever they happen to be. “We’ve had doctors accessing the system while waiting in airports. We’ve even had a doctor checking on lab results for his patients while he was on vacation in Greece.”

The province is working to increase the number of primary care doctors using EMRs by 15% each year, said Napier. “We hope to reach total adoption in four years,” she said.

“We are the first province to deliver electronic lab results from all provincial labs to all provincially approved electronic medical record systems,” said Nova Scotia Health Minister Chris d’Entremont. “This puts Nova Scotia in an advantageous position to accelerate adoption of technology in the health system, which leads to many other benefits.”

For its part, GTEC recognizes outstanding public sector leadership in innovation, in federal, provincial, municipal and national classifications. From close to 100 nominations in 2008, thirty-five medals were given in categories such as International Partnerships, Service Delivery to Citizens and Businesses, and Cross-Jurisdictional Partnerships, to name a few.
SCOAP (Society of Collaborative Opportunities and Advancement of Professionals), a non-profit association dedicated to exploring achievement and issues related to the management of information and technology in a knowledge-based society, provides the selection committee, the judging committee comprised of more than 30 members of SCOAP, and the awards methodology to the GTEC Distinction Awards. Nominations are reviewed in two separate processes, which include the screening and initial evaluation of all nominations, and the selection of Award Finalists. The a full description of the process can be found at
“The Distinction Awards celebrate technology and innovation throughout industry and Government, which is driving better collaboration, reducing costs, and improving efficiencies and service delivery to Canadians,” said Kevin d’Entremont, Executive Director of GTEC 2008. “Many of the initiatives have demonstrated significant change and tremendous innovation. We are proud to recognize major IT projects and the accomplishments of industry and Government’s top IT leaders, their innovative teams, and their contribution to improve services available to citizens across Canada.”