Step to streamline medical information takes giant leap, says AHS

‘It is not only a consolidation, it also makes healthcare smarter. We can reduce the number of repeat exams and find more efficient ways to refer patients’

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A years-long effort to streamline medical information sharing in the province has taken a huge step forward, Alberta Health Services says.

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On Sunday, AHS launched the fifth and largest installment of the Connect Care program, which consolidates hundreds of medical information systems with a view to increasing clinical efficiency and public access to medical data.

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“This means that all five health zones are involved in Connect Care and that we are replacing thousands of systems that were different across the province and merging them into a single system,” said Dr. Jeremy Theal, Chief Medical Information Officer for AHS.

“We recruited 22,500 additional AHS users and just under 2,800 healthcare providers, including physicians.”

There are now 75,000 physicians and other AHS employees using Connect Care.

Brought on board in Calgary on Sunday was the Foothills Medical Center with associated clinics at the Richmond Road Diagnostics and Treatment Center.

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That improves the efficiency of sharing patient information and gives those patients better access to their medical records, he said.

It also provides guidelines for the latest evidence-based treatment and best practices for specific cases, Theal said.

“It’s not just a consolidation, it makes healthcare smarter,” he said.

“We can reduce the number of repeat tests and find more efficient ways to refer patients.”

The changes are likely to lead to some initial hiccups as AHS staff adapt to the new system, Theal said.

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“A large number of people who go through major changes will take a little longer to learn your way,” he said.

While it doesn’t directly target emergency room wait times, Connect Care’s increased efficiency could reduce them, Theal said.

Launches of Connect Care began in November 2019 and are expected to be completed in the fall of 2024, when 150,000 AHS employees at 682 locations will be connected to the system.

The correction system, long-term care and some hospitals and clinics will be included in future rollouts, Theal said.

So far, 139,000 Albertans have signed up to the MyAHS Connect online portal where they can check their medicines, appointments, records and communicate securely with healthcare providers.

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Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

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