Island Health launches paperless record system in Nanaimo

NANAIMO – Patient records will go paperless under Island Health's new electronic health care system.

Patient records are about to go paperless as Island Health launches a new electronic medical record system in Nanaimo.

Nanaimo will be ground zero for IHealth, the health authority’s new $178-million medical system, set to roll out this February.

Paper charts have to be faxed to other offices and there can also be medication errors because of poor handwriting, according to IHealth executive director Suzanne Fox, who says the change is all about improving quality for patients.

The initiative will bank patients’ medical history in one place, allowing professionals like pharmacists, occupational therapists and physicians to access and add to the same record. Patients will no longer have to carry around paper and doctors will also be able to enter orders for patients themselves if there’s a need for chest x-rays or blood work, instead of writing it on a piece of paper for a unit clerk to transcribe. It’s instant and eliminates wait time for patients, Fox said.

“We know when patients transition care they go from a hospital back to home, or a hospital visit to their GP’s office, there’s sometimes missed information because it’s verbal or handwritten. Now it’s in that one place,” she said

Nanaimo was initially supposed to hook into IHealth last June, but the system wasn’t ready, Fox said. Local ancillary health services like labs and pharmacies will be the first to see the electronic system, Feb. 21. Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and Dufferin residential care will log in on March. 19.

Eventually the idea is to see the system Island-wide.

The system excludes doctors’ offices which are independent of Island Health.