Two heads better than one when it comes to eHealth

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While efficiency and better patient care are the ultimate goals of eHealth initiatives and integrated electronic health records, the actual implementation of electronic health records has proven to be a challenging project for some hospitals.

North York General Hospital has been steadily implementing advanced clinical systems throughout the hospital and is now almost entirely electronic – having been one of only three large hospitals in Canada to earn a Stage 6 designation from the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society in 2011. Because of the success the hospital has seen through eCare, the name NYGH has given its electronic health records strategy, other hospitals nation-wide have been looking to NYGH to help apply this success to their own organizations.

Sonia Pagliaroli is the Manager of Clinical Informatics at NYGH and has been working on eCare since its inception in 2006. Pagliaroli says that it’s a common occurrence for other hospitals to call NYGH asking for assistance with one of their own eHealth projects – and inversely, it’s easy for NYGH to reach out to other hospitals for assistance as well.

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“I think we’ve established a strong collaborative environment amongst hospitals implementing similar clinical systems.  Just as we feel comfortable reaching out to others for their advice and experience, we try to be as generous as possible with our time in supporting our colleagues with their eHealth projects” says Pagliaroli.

Pagliaroli says this kind of inter-hospital collaboration is beneficial not only to the hospital seeking assistance, but for all hospitals involved. While launching Phase 4 of eCare at NYGH, which involved bringing eCare to surgery and maternal-newborn units, NYGH brought in trainers from Toronto East General Hospital and Mount Sinai to help with the process.

“With Phase 4, having Toronto East’s assistance was hugely beneficial for us, since they had already implemented the same electronic surgery application, and their experience and knowledge was invaluable.”  “Mount Sinai also benefitted greatly from observing our implementation, as they will be embarking soon on their own maternal-newborn project” says Pagliaroli

NYGH has also been collaborating with hospitals from coast to coast, including Vancouver Island Health Authority in B.C. and Health PEI.

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“Collaboration provides a tremendous opportunity to learn from the experiences of others,” says Angela Doucette, a pharmacist and clinical analyst for Health PEI. “Often times the “lessons learned” from another hospital on what worked, and more importantly what didn’t, are invaluable in moving a project forward.”

Doucette says that Health PEI has been collaborating with hospitals across the country through the Cerner Regional User Group, comprised of all Cerner client hospitals in Canada.

“It has been invaluable to have other analysts share with us what did or didn’t work for them as far as design and workflow,” says Doucette. “NYGH and (Toronto East General Hospital) in particular were very generous with time and resources – hosting site visits for our team as well as answering questions over e-mail and sharing documentation.”

Pagliaroli says that it`s crucial to success for hospitals to watch each other and learn from each other’s experiences.

“After a hospital completes a project, there’s always a ‘lessons learned’ event that everybody can benefit from,” says Pagliaroli. “Hospitals face similar challenges when implementing systems, so if they can learn from others implementations, it can ensure a smoother transition”.

Doucette says that inter-hospital collaboration has not only been a major asset for Health PEI’s own initiatives, but has also helped them grow to the point where they can offer their assistance as well.

“As we mature as an eHealth jurisdiction we are evolving into a position where we are able to give some advice and guidance,” says Doucette, “where traditionally we have been the ones seeking it out.”