Beginning October 29, hospitals in North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and West Parry Sound will have access to a common shared health information system. Known collectively as the ONE Initiative – one system for the northeast and one chart for each patient on the system – the regional partnership uses a common version of the Expanse system, created by US-based firm MEDITECH.
Physicians and departmental teams from the North Bay Regional Health Centre (NBRHC), Sault Area Hospital (SAH) and West Parry Sound Health Centre (WPSHC) have been working together for two years to plan, build and provide training to implement a common system that will improve the way patients receive care.
For the first few weeks, while staff at the hospital become accustomed to the new system, it is anticipated that some processes may take longer than normal. “To minimize potential delays, the hospital is adding extra staff in certain areas,” explains Dr. Garniss, Chief Medical Information Officer and Medical Director Emergency Department Sault Area Hospital. “However, patients can be assured that they will continue to receive the best care possible during this transition to the new system.”
Tips for patients wanting to minimize non-urgent visits to the hospital during this time include checking prescriptions and making sure renewals are done through your primary care provider or pharmacy; and familiarizing yourself with the options available for non-urgent care, like Telehealth Ontario or walk-in clinics. “As always, in the case of an emergency, please do not hesitate and go straight to the Emergency Department,” Garniss says.
“Our partnership puts patients first. The shared system improves patient safety and provides a better care experience for patients,” says Elizabeth Ferguson, Vice President Clinical Operations, Chief Nursing Executive, and Executive Sponsor of the ONE Initiative for Sault Area Hospital. “Clinicians also benefit through a more efficient workflow, real-time notifications, and complete and timely access to a patient’s story between the three hospitals.”
“This advanced system provides physicians with the information they need to make important patient care decisions faster,” says Ferguson. “It contains built-in regional best practice content and clinical support tools that improve patient safety and transitions of care.”
Over 60% of acute care hospitals in Ontario use MEDITECH systems. The first partner to go live was WPSHC, on October 1. Presently each of the partner hospitals use different health information systems that are a mix of paper and older digital systems.