The rollout of an IT management portal by the Calgary Health Region could be the catalyst for a standardized way of electronically handling chronic disease data.

Calgary Health Region, which provides care to more

than one million people in southern Alberta, is about to launch a six-month project that will equip hospitals, specialists and physicians’ offices with access to a portal product called Concerto from Orion Systems International. This would mean patient data is captured and managed from a single place, eliminating the need for health-care providers to wait for care information to be faxed, mailed or couriered from one location to another.

Key to the project has been the creation of common data sets designed to facilitate the sharing of patient information through the portal. The first data sets, pertaining to diabetes, have just been completed and others, relating to hypertension, cholesterol problems, disruptive lung disease and chronic blood thinning will follow.

According to Dr. Peter Sargious, who leads the Calgary Health Region’s Chronic Disease Management Initiative, the data sets will ensure that types of information are different in the specifics but can be labelled the same way.

“”If you have a lab test that tells you how active a particular condition is, you just change the name of that lab test as you move from one condition to the next, but the data model is identical,”” he said. “”It makes the cost of the system much less, because if you build a custom solution for every single condition, it becomes prohibitively expensive””

With a template model, on the other hand, health-care providers simply switch the specifics of what’s captured, he said.

Through Western Health Information Collaborative, the Calgary Health Region applied for and has received $8 million in federal funding to work with four western provinces to establish minimum data sets as standards across the Western provinces.

“”Hopefully our goal is going to be to make it national,”” he said. “”It is sort of central to the success of this kind of undertaking, and it only is sustainable if the standard sits above the level of a regional health authority.””

Sarah Graham, Orion International’s senior vice-president for Canada, said Calgary Health Region is showing a lot of initiative in creating the data sets prior to implementation.

“”The focus that Calgary has is really very important,”” she said. “”Other health-care organizations haven’t attacked it quite like that.””

Sargious said the data sets are an integral part of capitalizing on its IT investments. Calgary Health Region’s goal is to break down potential isolation between information stored at different care provider locations, he said, and current IT systems and structures aren’t designed to manage chronic conditions as they are acute health conditions.

“”It was a very interesting consensus exercise within the Calgary Health Region,”” he said. “”If you’ve got the organizational commitment and mindset in place before you bring in place the technology, I’m anticipating that will be a predictor of success. We spent a lot of time on that.””

Orion said Sierra Systems will help with the implementation of Concerto.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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