University of Calgary deploys e-records software to 10 divisions

The University of Calgary‘s Department of Medicine has chosen a technology first developed in the U.K. to house patient records for 10 specialist divisions.

Initially, 400 users in outpatient clinics affiliated with the university will deploy EMIS Inc. electronic medical record technology in a four-year deal worth $2 million. The affected specialties include: endocrinology and metabolism, dermatology, gastroenterology, general internal medicine, geriatrics, hematology, infectious diseases, nephrology, respiratory and rheumatology.

The records are designed to a repository for patient data such as referrals, hospital discharge summaries, operative and pathology reports and laboratory results.

The records will also be accessible by the Calgary Health Region on an ASP basis.

EMIS Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Leeds, U.K.-based parent EMIS Ltd. (Egton Medical Information Systems). The Canadian operation was established in Edmonton almost a year ago by president and CEO Peter Anderson with a view towards pursuing the burgeoning electronic health record market in Canada.

The University of Calgary deal represents EMIS’s first major Canadian customer, but Anderson is confident that there are plenty of opportunities for more.

“B.C. is the next step,” said Anderson. “My business plan is a multi-million dollar commitment over five years to the Canadian market. The approach is that we would target Western Canada for the first year, then look eastward to Ontario.”

Anderson said he started in Alberta, since the province has a proven track record in electronic health care. He estimates that Alberta has 60 per cent adoption rate for e-medical records compared to about seven per cent in B.C. and 15 per cent in Ontario. Some health-care clinics may be new to electronic records and others may already have a head-start but could be candidates for EMIS technology if they ever consider upgrading their existing technology.

EMIS currently serves 5,700 clinics in the U.K, representing about 40,000 physicians and 40 million patient records. Anderson says his company already has a decade under its belt in the market compared to relatively inexperienced Canadian competitors.

Edworthy said the University of Calgary will begin to roll out its EMIS Patient Care System starting this September with a completion date sometime next year. In the meantime, it will maintain both paper and electronic records.

“Fortunately, most of our letters are in electronic format in a secure repositories – we have the paper copies but we can move the electronic copies over. We’re probably also be scanning some of the paper stuff that we have into it,” he said.

The Government of Alberta is working on its own e-health record system through a $10-million contract with IBM. The provincial project is separate from smaller medical rollouts like the one underway in Calgary, but all operate on a common standard to enable data to be shared between them at a future date. The provincial government estimates that patient information from varying sources may be synchronized sometime beyond 2008.

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