Quebec hospital starts five-year patient record project

A Quebec hospital has begun a five-year project to create an electronic patient record that could solve its storage problems.

Pierre Boucher Hospital in Longueuil said it has chosen Montreal-based Purkinje to provide the necessary

technology. Guy Bergeron, coordinator of hospital and professional services at Pierre Boucher said the switch is a necessary one. The hospital has been facing a severe storage shortage with its paper-based records.

“We were storing patient records outside of our facilities,” he said, adding sometimes this data proved critical. “It was very costly to get that information back.”

Tarras said Pierre Boucher has chosen route of other Purkinje client hospitals, including Listowell Memorial Hospital in Listowell, Ont., with a phased approach. However, he said a partnership with Lockheed Martin Canada to deliver an integrated health information system to the Canadian Department of National Defence will involve a simultaneous implementation of all Purkinje Dossier components.

This fall, Pierre Boucher will introduce the first two modules. The Order and Results module will allow electronic viewing of X-rays and lab results, while the e-Documents module will allow health care pro to view past medical records, and make changes. All of these modules will be integrated with the hospital’s existing applications. In a nod to the importance of ensuring patient privacy, all those changes will be tracked, Taras said.

“You can’t do anything without having a trace of what you do on it.”

Bergeron stressed the importance of security, noting the hospital faces government pressure to keep patient data private and that Pierre Boucher has established a special hospital committee dedicated to the issue.

Taras acknowledged that security is crucial, but added this is not unique to electronic records. “There’s always a concern about security and privacy, even if it’s on paper,” he said.

He added Pierre Boucher is looking beyond passwords to ensure the security of patient records. Security, he says, is what you know (passwords), who you are (biometrics) and what you hold (smart card). He adds the hospital’s network will be closed and housed on one server, and applications can be confined to user groups.

In the following two years, the implementation will continue with a nursing module for documenting care plans and a Clinical Note Writer that will allow doctors and other health care professionals to enter data from clinical encounters. A data warehouse will also be established to allow for data analysis and data mining though not by name.

Taras said an implementation like this would aid greatly in analyzing disease outbreaks, such Toronto’s recent waves of SARS infection. He said all Clinical Note Writer data can be stored and retrieved. This would allow a user to see how many patient had specific symptoms, which is crucial to epidemiological studies.

Even the e-Documents module alone would cut down time and resources required to track patients, which would in turn limit spread.

“Once the first component is implemented, the beauty is you don’t have to look for past record,” he said. “You’re saving tremendous time.”

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