University health centres integrate clinical systems

Two university health centres in Montreal will get an integrated clinical information system pursuant to the terms of a multi-million-dollar, multi-year agreement with a software firm in the U.S.

McGill University Health Centre (MUHC)

and the Centre hospitalier de l’Universite de Montreal (CHUM) have tapped Sybase in Dublin, Calif. to deliver the application and technology for both hospital systems. Because of laws regulating the safety and confidentiality of clinical data, each institution will have its own application and database.

The clinical information system (CIS)  is an electronic health record system, officially known as Oacis, which comes courtesy of Kanata, Ont.-based DINMAR, a Sybase partner. The new tool MUHC and CHUM will leverage is built around Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) database technology, which is designed to simplify data acquisition, staging, warehousing and reporting.

According to Jean Huot, chief information officer for both MUHC and CHUM, the new clinical information system promises to help the hospital networks achieve objectives involving care giving, teaching and researching. Other specific benefits include improving access to and quality of information, providing clinical decision support tools, enabling multi-disciplinary care and integration of care processes, enhancing heath-care efficiency, supporting the evaluation of clinical activities and encouraging continuous quality improvement.

“One of our goals is to improve access to clinical information not only internally but also outside the location,” said Huot, adding the rollout will be done gradually with completion of the project slated for December 2008. “We have the objective to reduce delays and to ensure the right decisions are taken at the clinical level. We believe the capacity to take charge of the patient will improve because information will flow more easily.”

The solution promises to help the institutions, particularly as it relates to their combined 20,000 caregivers and other personnel, and over 1.6 million outpatients a year, said Tony Morrison, head of professional services for Sybase North America. While the deployment proceeds, he said, other institutions will likely be waiting to see just how the project turns out. 

“There are probably other regional health units that may use the system too,” he said, adding that the Oacis clinical data repository and other Oacis tools are deployed on the Sybase ASE enterprise class database platform. “We’re working with other hospitals in Canada.” 

According to Michelle Warren, IT industry analyst at Evans Research in Toronto, health-care centres are increasingly moving towards clinical information systems for a number of reasons, one of which is the importance of information privacy as expressed in laws like the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. What Sybase has done, she said, is provide the type of tool the health industry can use to address legal issues and other concerns.

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