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Health care evolving with new technology

Nanaimo’s emergency department is the prototype for all emergency rooms on the Island and is on the leading edge of integrating new technologies into the environment to improve patient care and workflow.

Dr. Mary-Lyn Fyfe, a Vancouver Island Health Authority chief medical information officer, said Nanaimo’s emergency department has been a focus for VIHA. The department has newer technologies integrated into the workspace. Computer stations are located throughout the space instead of only at a few locations like the old emergency department.

Physicians and nurses can take advantage of Vocera communication tools that allow them to make hands-free, voice-controlled-calls to each other in the department instead of paging each other. Fyfe said the technology allows for a quieter atmosphere for patients who enter the space.

The evolution of VIHA’s eHealth strategies is also allowing doctors to get more complete and up-to-date information on patients who come into the hospital, no matter where they regularly receive treatment. VIHA has been rolling patient information into eHealth records.

“All the information on a patient is in one record – rather than having to look in a different place (doctors) just need to look in the patient’s chart and everything is there,” said Fyfe.

Guy Weeks, VIHA’s acting vice-president and chief information officer, said the focus has been on moving from the previous multiple-systems model to one that holds the core data in one system, to provide a core level of data to all.

“A lot of those gaps are being closed now,” said Week, adding that an easy click or link on the screen can lead to more information pertinent to the patient’s care.

The eHealth record system is more than a depository of patient information. It is also an intuitive tool that monitors information and can alert physicians if there is a medication conflict or if a patient on a certain floor in the hospital is presenting signs for a condition that may require isolation, said Weeks.

“Each health region has a regional system that is a clinical tool. It’s intuitive. It tracks data, correlates results and makes suggestions based on patient information to help doctors treating patients,” he said.

Doctors are also getting more options to access their patients in a mobile world. VIHA provides mobile devices for all its physicians to access eHealth records. Weeks said many are choosing to purchase their own devices. It’s allowing them to connect to their own practices when needed.

“It’s about mobility. It’s about access in the right place,” said Weeks.

He said there is more demand for access from patients for information. He said initial work has begun to create a patient portal which will allow patients to be more interactive with their health information and access their patient files or view test results.

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