Virtual Care Uncloaking in Canada

We recently alerted blog readers to the public release of MyHealth Records, a personal health record service available to all Albertans. This could ease patient access to some health information (e.g., vaccination records, selected laboratory tests) while also improving individuals' ability to gather and organize health history information.

In another recent release, we learn of Telus Health's introduction of Babylon Health to the Canadian public (the UK has a few years experience with Babylon).

The initial Telus offering includes a "chatbot" that patients can interact with to learn more about their symptoms. In addition, patients in British Columbia can book one-on-one video consultations with physicians who have signed up (and bill for) virtual visits.

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds. Health advocacy and regulatory bodies have concerns. Physicians may want to sign up and get a sense of the offering and possible professional impacts.

Connect Care is committed to support virtual health care services. However, these are envisioned as a seamless extension of health encounters supported by fully integrated health information services. Communications, documentation, planning, coordination and team interactions are all part of the same informational ecosystem. Alberta's HealthLink is tightly coupled with Connect Care and co-evolves to support a growing range virtual healthcare services.

For more information:


MyHealth Records Public Release Today

Today Alberta Health completes the public launch of MyHealth Records (MHR, a.k.a. Personal Health Record or PHR; MyHealth.Alberta.ca). MHR offers an online personal portfolio where Albertans can enter and manage their own health information. The content can be shared with health care teams through printed summaries or personal device displays.

The first phase of MHR focuses on information gathered from and managed by individuals. There are tools for recording health measurements, health histories and wellness goals. Some extracts from the Netcare electronic health record are shared, including some community-dispensed medications, recent vaccinations and selected laboratory test results.

Growing use of MHR may affect how Albertans relate to health information and to their healthcare team. All clinicians are encouraged to learn about the MHR offering. Indeed, the best way to do this is to sign up for personal access.

Clinicians can visit the MyHealth Records webpage (myhealth.alberta.ca/mhr-provider) to learn more, and send questions or comments to myhealthrecords@gov.ab.ca.


Considering the Impact of Connect Care on Daily Operational Activities

As we move towards our first launch of the Connect Care clinical information system, it is time to shift our focus towards change management and readiness planning. The Change Impact Work Package is an early step in this planning. Through this work package, Specialty Working groups will review decisions they made to determine if the decisions will have an effect on our day-to-day operational activities.
To facilitate this process, each working group will be provided with a list of all of their Specialty CSD decisions, and Area Council Coordinators will prepare meetings and ensure that impacts are entered into the decision tracker. As groups go through this process, they will not be re-visiting decisions that have been made. Instead, they will use this opportunity to understand the operational impacts so we can better help our colleagues prepare for this transformation.
In addition to Specialty Working Groups, other areas will follow this same process. This includes Area Councils (where they are working as Specialty Working Groups), Complex Areas, Content and Standards Committees and more. Once complete the Change Impacts Task Force will review this work so that it can be included in readiness events, pre-classroom training and future chapters of the Readiness Playbook.
Medical Informatics Leads and other physicians on Area Councils and Specialty Working Groups serve as an essential bridge between the Connect Care initiative and clinical communities, and provide critical leadership in understanding the operational impacts of the design decisions.  We appreciate your support in helping us think through how the system design, general documentation, decision and inquiry supports may affect your colleagues at launch. Thank you again for your continued support of this initiative.
For more information, we have prepared one page overviews of the Change Impact Work Package and the Change Impact Task Force:
If you have any additional questions about this work, please email Linda Kuijten at Linda.Kuijten@albertahealthservices.ca.


Connect Care March 1 2019 Newsletter Posted

The March 1, 2019, Connect Care Newsletter is available via the link below; covering the day-in-the-life poster  series and Epic’s recent Top of Klas award winnings.


Connect Care Resources for Physicians Extended

The Alberta Health Services Chief Medical Information Office has updated a list of Connect Care news channels and resources for physicians. The 1-pager is re-focused to address the needs of all physician-users; and re-organized to highlight news and updates.

A new "Connect Care Bridges" communications channel is dedicated to physicians who will not use Connect Care as their record of care, but need to know how to take advantage of its health information services.


Learning from our Neighbors

An important Canadian digital health record initiative completed its first implementation in Nanaimo, British Columbia, just as the Alberta Health Services' (AHS) Connect Care initiative was getting started. There have been struggles since. AHS continues to tap multiple sources for lessons that can help us prepare for Connect Care's first launch later this year.

A recent Victoria BC news article offers differing perspectives about how IHealth is unfolding:


Interview with Epic's Judy Faulkner

Epic Systems' CEO, Judy Faulkner, was interviewed at HIMSS 2019, with some interesting reflections about physician burnout, the importance of personalization and the value of building builder capacity in clinician communities. Worth a skim:


Connect Care Specialty Clinical System Design Decisions - Milestone Achieved!

As of Friday morning, February 8, 2019, at 10:58, we achieved 100% completion (2663 documented, 0 remaining) of the essential specialty Clinical System Design (CSD) decisions needed for Connect Care configuration and build. We made our deadline!


Mobility Key to Physician Efficiency

We've previously posted about what physicians hope for from a clinical information system (CIS); highlighting the daily informational gripes that can be eased with good process and product in the hands of eHealth-literate physicians. Our day-in-the-life demonstration showed how new ways of interacting with the health record could help physicians manage complex information tasks.

Interesting to note how the more positive US EHR press (there's lots of negative these days!) showcases the difference that mobile apps can make. It's not that the entire health record is better experienced on a small screen; instead a few practical helpmates with focused interfaces that are easy to use everywhere physicians work. A recent Forbes article praises of mobile apps, citing functions that we deploy with Connect Care:


Patient Portals Bridge the Care Continuum

We may think of a Patient Portal as a window for exposing health record content to patients... as this is the most prevalent application to date.

Connect Care seeks much more from the patient-facing information services. We want the clinical information system (CIS) to be used by patients as much as by their providers. Communication, way-finding, symptom surveillance, education, decision-support, e-visits and scheduling are just some salves for the information fragmentation that so frustrates our clients' experience of health care. Indeed, we may want to talk less of "portals" and more of "bridges"; connoting connection, bi-directional interaction, and gap-mitigation.

Many patients first experience informational fragmentation at the beginning of their health encounters, especially when "on-boarding". Effective information bridges could optimally pre-shape a wide range of patient-provider-team interactions. A number of organizations have been innovating with inclusive information services that use communication to break through traditional portal constraints.

Microsoft spotlights case-studies of promising health information innovations. A recent example cites the experience of Nicklaus Children's Health System with digital communication networks for patients and families. Obviously not peer-reviewed evidence, but interesting read nonetheless:


Epic again top of Klas

Epic System's electronic health record software, the centrepiece of Connect Care's clinical information system (CIS), continues to excel in the 'Best in KLAS' awards.

The 2019 awards, based on an annual survey of health information system users (including opinions of physicians and other health care decision-makers from >4,500 hospitals and >2,500 clinics), go to Epic in the categories of Inpatient, Outpatient, Laboratory, Patient Management, Health Information Exchange and Patient Portals.

We are happy to work with such a strong technology partner!


Care Transformation through Informatics

A recent cover story in the Alberta Doctors' Digest summarizes current state and future opportunities for systems interoperation in the province of Alberta. The significance of Connect Care de-fragmenting the health information space within Alberta Health Services is acknowledged. Worth a read:


Connect Care February 1 2019 Newsletter Posted

The February, 2019, Connect Care Newsletter is available via the link below; covering the Wave 1 launch, the latest on trainer recruitment and how clinical documentation is being standardized in the Connect Care clinical information system (CIS).


Wave 1 Launch Event Video Snapshot

The energy was electric at the Walter C. Mackenzie Campus on Jan. 17, as hundreds of staff and physicians packed the atrium for the campus’ Wave 1 launch celebrations.

Participants had the chance to hear from site leaders, participate in a flash mob dance, view system demos and discuss hopes and fears. We've previously posted about the evening physician event, sponsored by the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Society. Below is a video synopsis of the daytime happenings.


How will Physicians be Trained for Connect Care?

Plans for Connect Care physician training continue to gel. Although the first wave launch is not until November, training starts long before then.

Physicians can learn more about what to expect by skimming any of the following resources (shortest listed first), or viewing a 10 minute online presentation.


Building AHS Capacity through Connect Care

That Connect Care is about transformation, not technology, is our constant refrain. A necessary condition for success is that we grow the capacity of our people so that clinical information system (CIS) capabilities are used to clinical advantage. In this we are already successful.

We prepare by empowering our people. To date, investments in the AHS physician community include:
  • 1 CMIO and 5 Associate CMIOs
  • 5 Provincial Physician Design Leads
  • 62 Medical Informatics Leads
  • 22 Provincial Knowledge Leads
  • 39 Physicians enrolled in Power User training, 7 already certified
  • 32 Physicians started Physician Builder training, 11 already certified
  • Over 400 physicians participating in Clinical System Design
  • 13 Provincial Physician Trainers certified
This cadre of capable physicians will assure CIS uptake through leadership, role-modelling, user-group facilitation, Super User mentoring and committee/council/workgroup participation. Even greater numbers reflect growing capacity in clinical operations and multidisciplinary teams.

Experience teaches that a large and complex health information system initiative attains success first through well-organized communities of capable people, second through solid processes and last through a well-configured CIS product. We are building momentum!


Readiness Activities Moving Ahead

The Connect Care Readiness Playbook (playbook.connect-care.ca), available to all Alberta Health Services (AHS) staff and physicians, is a one-stop resource to help users prepare for clinical information system launch at a program or site. It includes the information and tools needed to organize and track key readiness activities.

The Playbook continues to take shape. The latest release gives more detail about how our work will change, emphasizing positive prospects that can build excitement for transformation. Recent additions include sections offering practical guidance about steps to get ready for implementation.

Where the Readiness Playbook emphasizes information that multidisciplinary teams need to help them get ready for launch, the Connect Care Physician Handbook offers more focused tips for physicians.


Be Sure to Subscribe

As we approach the first Connect Care clinical information system launch, more needs to be communicated more quickly.

One advantage of using blogging services to fan-out news for Connect Care stakeholders is that one can "subscribe" to receive alerts to new material. Alerts can be received via electronic mail, a news reader (RSS feed) or other social media (e.g. Twitter).

Please subscribe to this feed (and/or other feeds listed in physician resources) in order to get important information when it matters most:


Connect Care Resources for Physicians Updated

The Alberta Health Services Chief Medical Information Office has updated a list of resources for physicians interested in the Connect Care initiative. Also updated are external (public web) and internal (AHS Insite intranet) pages.

New communications services include a video (vlog) collection of short Connect Care presentations, a demonstrations blog highlighting key clinical information system functions (requires AHS username/password for access), and an updates channel for the medical informatics community.