Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/3/2011 (2357 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Manitoba has launched a new electronic health-record system that doctors say will allow them to treat patients more quickly and provide them with better care.
The system, called eChart Manitoba, has been in development since 2007.
The new information tool was unveiled at a news conference Wednesday at the Kildonan Medical Centre at Seven Oaks General Hospital — the first site to hop on board.
By July, it’s expected that 30 clinics and emergency departments will be using the system, with most other facilities in the province hooked up by sometime in 2012.
"It’s a time-saver for us," said Dr. Tunji Fatoye, unit director at the Kildonan Medical Centre. He said information gathering that once took three people 20 minutes to accomplish can now be done by a doctor, sitting with a patient, in just a couple of minutes.
Right now, Kildonan, and the half-dozen other sites connected to the system, can access a patient’s basic personal information, such age, gender, address and phone number, as well as any prescription drugs they may have received, immunization records and lab test results.
Eventually, patient information from doctor’s offices that have converted to electronic record keeping will also be available. It’s estimated that 15 per cent of physicians have already done so.
Health Minister Theresa Oswald said the eChart should make treatment more convenient for patients and cut down on unnecessary procedures, such as the duplication of lab tests. "One less needle? Sounds good to me," she quipped on Wednesday.
Oswald said only health care providers who are involved in a patient’s care will be allowed access to that person’s information. Those consulting the system will be tracked and audited, she said, and Manitobans will be able to obtain a copy of what information is stored about them and who has viewed their record. They will also be able to direct who can and cannot see their health information.
The $40-million cost of the program was included in funds announced back in 2007. It includes $27.5 million from the federally funded Canada Health Infoway, a non-profit group that works with the provinces to improve their health information systems.
Oswald said Manitoba ranks somewhere "in the middle" among provinces in the electronic conversion of health records. She said it took time to develop the infrastructure that allowed for different players to share information on the same system.
More health facilities and sources of health information will be added to the system as time goes on, Oswald said, adding that eChart will only be as good as the number of partners that are connected to it.
Family physicians have received government incentives to convert their paper records to an electronic system, but no doctor will be bullied into it, the minister said. "Forcing this on somebody that is absolutely reluctant, I think, will engage us in a battle that will waste time," she said.
The province said it will take out print, radio and web advertisements in the coming weeks to raise awareness about the new eChart system and to assure Manitobans that their health records are secure.
Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen said Manitoba trails such provinces as British Columbia and Alberta in developing electronic health record keeping systems. He said he is concerned that the announcement and the coming "public relations campaign" has "more to do with desperate preelection politicking than actually making progress on improving the health care system."