Winter 2004

I n f o r m a t i o n   T e c h n o l o g y
NLCHI ensures consistency in development of health information network
Two projects for which the Centre is currently providing consulting services are DI/PACS and Primary Health Care Renewal.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information (NLCHI) provides consulting services to health information system projects that contribute to the development of the Health Information Network, the building block for electronic health records (EHR) in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Two projects for which the Centre is currently providing consulting services are the Newfoundland and Labrador Diagnostic Imaging/Picture Archiving and Communications System (DI/PACS) Project and Primary Health Care Renewal Project — both of which are of interest to physicians in this province for their contributions towards improved patient care.

The Centre’s involvement in these two projects, in addition to sitting on the steering committee for Nell, the NLMA’s electronic medical record project, ensures consistency in the development of all provincial health information systems.

Diagnostic Imaging/Picture Archiving and Communications System

NLMA members were updated on this project by a special bulletin on November 9 from Dr. Benvon Cramer, an early champion for DI/PACS in Newfoundland and Labrador, and now a member of the Provincial DI/PACS Steering Committee. The PACS project, an initiative of the Department of Health and Community Services in collaboration with Canada Health Infoway, will allow for primary reporting, on-call coverage, and immediate remote consultation allowing both the clinician and the referring radiologist to review the same images with the consulting clinician at the same time. It also means fewer exams are repeated when patients are sent to secondary and/or tertiary sites for consultation.

NLCHI is providing project management support to the Provincial DI/PACS Steering Committee.

Primary Health Care (PHC) Electronic Health Record (EHR) Project

Primary heath care renewal offers a new approach to health care delivery in this province. Its aim is to strengthen the balance of services that promote health, prevent illness and injury, and diagnose and treat episodic and chronic illness and injury. It emphasizes a team-based, interdisciplinary approach to providing health services where physicians can work more closely with other physicians and other health care professionals both locally and provincially.

The Department of Health and Community Services has established the Office of Primary Health Care to manage this project. Eight sites have reached the proposal stage. NLCHI is working with two of these sites as it has been determined that information and communications technologies are important to primary health care renewal. Having the ability to share patient information between primary health care sites and authorized hospital users ensures improved patient care, faster communication of test results, reduced duplication of tests, and a better understanding by physicians of the comprehensive needs of their patients.

Tom Alteen, PHC Information System Consultant, and Barbara Barry, PHC support analyst, are assisting the primary health care teams in aligning information management requirements with provincial EHRs. The initial step in the PHC EHR project required visits to primary health care reference sites that had currently reached the proposal stage (Bonavista, Bonne Bay, Connaigre Peninsula, Grenfell, Labrador East, downtown St. John's, and Twillingate/New World Island) between March and July 2004.

Late in August, NLCHI hired Sierra Systems to assist with completing the needs assessment and requirements gathering components of the project. The needs assessment was completed in September 2004. Of the sites visited, one rural (Connaigre) and one urban site (downtown St. John’s) were selected as reference sites by the Office of Primary Health Care. Business process workshops were conducted with the two sites in October and early November; confirmation workshops were conducted with representatives from these two reference sites during late November; and a roadmap (technical planning) workshop was held on December 1.

The St. John’s and Connaigre sites will be evaluated and will be used to provide lessons learned to the Office of Primary Health Care for the potential implementation of EHR capability in other sites across the province in the future.


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