Medical information specialist Shannon Cragg demonstrates the use of the new iHealth system at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.

Medical information specialist Shannon Cragg demonstrates the use of the new iHealth system at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.

2016 Year in Review: Complications logged with records system

NANAIMO – Doctors’ revolt at Nanaimo Hospital leads to review of IHealth.

Island Health’s $178-million electronic record system got a checkup this year.

The diagnosis?

The new IHealth system stays in place, but with recommendations for change.

In one year, IHealth, intended to roll out at all Island Health’s Vancouver Island facilities, went online in Nanaimo and Parksville, lost the confidence of doctors and was reviewed by a third-party.

The health authority went online with the paperless record-keeping system in March, with an aim to move toward one record for every patient, a virtual data bank of information health care practitioners would be able to access at any of its facilities.

But after implementation, doctors expressed non-confidence in the system and more than 100 health-care providers signed a petition requesting IHealth be suspended until issues with it were addressed.

Medical staff concerns were centred on how the system slowed the pace of treatment in critical areas, like the hospital’s emergency room and intensive care unit, and resulted in missing or misplaced orders, putting patient health at risk.

Island Health ultimately decided issues experienced were tied to inadequate staff support rather than the system itself and at the recommendation of the Health Authority Medical Advisory Committee, decided the system would continue to operate while immediate steps were taken to address staff fatigue and boost staff trust.

By July, a press conference was held to call for an expedited, independent and expert review of IHealth by Dr. David Forrest, president of the Nanaimo Medical Staff Association, Sheryl Armstrong, chairwoman of the Dufferin Place family council, health critic for the opposition, Judy Darcy, Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog, and Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley. Forrest said the record system is difficult to use, inefficient and there’s concern about patient safety.

The B.C. Ministry of Health and Island Health agreed to a third-party review after meeting with health-care workers at NRGH, and the results were released last month. It supports IHealth remaining in place, but offered 26 recommendations around supports for staffing, education and medication ordering and administration.

An oversight committee was expected to be struck to oversee the recommendations.

– with files from John McKinley, Black Press