Central Zone ACMIO Appointed

We are happy to announce that Dr. Steven Turner has been appointed Associate Chief Medical Information Officer for the Alberta Health Services (AHS) Central Zone. Steve has served Olds as a family physician for over 25 years. His current practice focuses on Seniors and Palliative Care, and he supports the zone Palliative Care resource team. Steve was Medical Director for Programs and Performance for 3 years, head of the Department of Family medicine for 7 years, and Associated Zone Medical Director for Primary Care for the last 3 years; all in the Central Zone.  He is currently co-chair of its Quality Assurance Committee. Steve has been married for 30 years, and has 2 grown children. He enjoys downhill skiing, hiking, golf, motorcycles and travel.


Epic Ratings High

​Epic Systems Corporation has attained 'best in KLAS' for the 8th year in a row.

KLAS is a Utah Based Health Informatics research company that "helps healthcare providers make informed technology decisions by offering accurate, honest, and impartial vendor performance information." The company has been collecting ratings on healthcare industry software since 1997. There are 9 award categories and Epic placed highest in a number of them and overall.


Clinician Information Sharing Compact

For Connect Care to achieve its goals, it is essential that health information be appropriately captured, documented, shared, disclosed and used. These are matters of information sharing. They touch the core of health care professionalism and change as clinicians move from siloed paper records to shared digital records.

In order to address the need for new information sharing norms, and to account for professional obligations and legislative imperatives, a Clinical Information Sharing Compact has been developed by AHS in collaboration with healthcare professionals. Its adoption can promote effective information sharing in clinical information systems.

A compact is clear statement of reciprocal expectations and accountabilities between two groups. It is not a legal contract but is a matter of public accountability. Compacts emerge from  collaborative efforts to understand shared interests. They leverage common goals – such as improving care for patients and populations – to discover how stakeholder interests can be best aligned.


Precision Health and Connect Care

The Alberta Academic Health Network, linking Alberta Health Services with Alberta's researh institutions, has initiated work on an Alberta Precision Health Strategy. This anticipates powerful new capabilities associated with a fully integrated clinical information system supporting the province-wide Connect Care initiative. There will be entirely new opportunities to learn from how health care works in Alberta... or best 'internal' evidence that can be matched to best 'external' evidence produced by clinical research about the effects of health interventions in other populations. Knowing more about the exact characteristics of persons who react differently to the same treatmetns can help practitioners craft care plans that more precisely arrest disease processes while rallying patients' own disease defences. The Connect Care team will collaborate with Precision Health Alberta to make the most of in-system analytics and clinical inquiry supports.


Ottawa Healthcare Facilities Adopt Information Integration Strategy

A number of Ottawa facilities, including the regional pediatric hospital, community hospitals and academic health centres, gather in a growing 'cluster' sharing a common clinical information system. This expands adoption of Epic Systems in Eastern Ontario where costs are shared working from a common build. Patients benefit when multiple providers and facilities work from a shared record.

Connect Care has already built liaison bridges to Ontario groups on or adopting Epic-enabled integrated health systems. A Canadian user group is formed and will seek opportunities to further extend collaboration and sharing of evidence-informed content.


Apple Announces Mobile Health Records Application

Apple's next release of its 'iOS' operating system for mobility (iPhone, iPad)​ is now in beta testing. A new feature, called 'Health Records' extends many incremental developments (HealthKit, ResearchKit, CareKit, Activity App, Health App) to pull everything together in a personally managed health record. More importantly, this is standards-based 'Health Record' app adheres to the HL-7 FHIR standard, allowing incorporation of content gathered from full digital health record run by healthcare organizations.
Of relevance to Connect Care, the soon-to-be-released app works with Epicare and will release ready to interface with clients like Johns Hopkins Medicine. In any case, Apple's foray into personal health records is sure to stir things up!


Connect Care Direction-Setting: Physician Participation

The Connect Care initiative (connect-care.ca) seeks to improve health outcomes with the help of a provincial Clinical Information System (CIS) adapted to Alberta’s needs and opportunities. In the design phase, clinical experts from across the province gather for highly influential working sessions. Building on information already gathered from Alberta Health Services stakeholders, best-guess workflow supports will be demonstrated for discussion about what might best fit clinician needs. Decisions are recorded and used to iteratively configure a foundation system as the starting point for Connect Care.
Although many physicians are already lined up for participation in Direction-Setting, some important specialty and expertise gaps remain. Please consider making an invaluable contribution!
Information about the sessions, time commitments and logistics can be found in the physician handbook (handbook.ahs-cis.ca/?=direction-setting). Please contact cmio@ahs.ca with questions, interest, or simply to add your name to the Connect Care registry of potential physician expert contributors. Thanks!


Clinical Telehealth becomes Virtual Health Services

​The Alberta Health Service (AHS) Clinical Telehealth program is newly reorganized as "Virtual Health Services" (VHS) under the dyad leadership of Dr. Jonathan Choy (medical) and Catherine Keenan (operational), with oversight through the Chief Medical Office portfolio.
VHS is responsible for the introduction, adoption, promotion and monitoring of processes and technology enabling high quality and effective patient care anywhere. Services include traditional video conferencing, as well as electronic consultations, store and forward, secure messaging and remote patient monitoring. The vision for VHS is closely coupled with that for Connect Care and will leverage the many tools and processes afforded by a fully integrated digital health record.
A new, Connect Care aware, VHS strategy is in the works. Interested stakeholders are encouraged to assist with direction setting. Contact Jonathan (jonathan.choy@ahs.ca) or Catherine (catherine.keenan@ahs.ca) for more information.


Epic Announces Option for Small Practices and Facilities

First described at the 2017 Epic User Group meeting attended by some of our physician leads, Epic has formally announced 'Sonnet', a stripped down variant of its digital health record software optimized for small hospitals, clinics and physician practices. It's workflows are streamlined and standardized, coupled with a quick-install methodology and ready-to-use designs.

In is uncertain how long before this kind of offering might become available in Canada. Sonnet could bring affordable options to smaller practices wanting to connect with fully integrated clinical information systems.


Epicare 2017 Software now in-Province for further Development

​We are thrilled to learn that all 6 non-production Epic 2017 environments are now installed and functioning in Alberta in support of Connect Care! This is a key milestone, timed exactly right (and on time), as we prepare clinicians and support staff for intense direction-setting and design activities over the next months.
The foundation build will be upgraded to Epic's 2018 software in March. This will be the environment that most trainees, designers, deveopers and testers work with. Important clinical repository interfacing can now proceed with key databases and codesets up and running.
Connect care has the first elements of its technology foundation!


South Zone ACMIO Appointed

Connect Care physician leadership recruitment continues to yield great results! This week, we are delighted to welcome Dr. Aaron Low as Associate Chief Medical Information Officer for the Alberta Health Services (AHS) South Zone. Aaron has practiced General Internal Medicine in Lethbridge for the past 7 years, and has served as Clinical Department Head, Internal Medicine South Zone (West) for the past 4 years. Aaron completed both his BSc and MD at the University of Alberta, and his Internal Medicine residency at the University of Manitoba (2010). He will complete an executive education program on "The Innovative Health Care Leader" at Stanford University this Spring. Passionate about inquiry, analytics and reporting, Aaron sees in Connect Care a huge opportunity for clinical improvement. He plays squash and soccer, and loves recreational activities with his wife and children (3 boys and 3 girls).


Connect Care Physician Information Resources

As Connect Care ramps up and speeds up, communications increase exponentially. It can be difficult for stakeholders to track what affects them the most. The AHS CMIO will continue to advocate for clinician interests and will work with physician and other practitioner groups to customize and optimize communication strategies.
For now, general Connect Care information is readily available via an open public website (see links). Focused project information is available to Connect Care participants via an internal AHS website and comprehensive Connect Care activity supports are managed via an internal SharePoint site (see links).

Physician users of Connect Care services can also access a Connect Care Physician Handbook. This handbook provides guides and tips, largely prepared by clinicians for clinicians. The Handbook is intended as a form of peer-to-peer mentoring and support. It can be accessed directly with its web link or as part of the Clinical Improvement Collaboratory.
If you believe you should be able to access one of these sites, but are unable to do so, please contact cmio@ahs.ca.


US Regulatory Agency Rules on Use of Clinical Text Messaging

​The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in the United States may have brought some clarity to whether text messaging can be used to communicate clinical information supporting health care. CMS has confirmed that in order to be compliant with conditions for reimbursement coverage, providers must use messaging systems that are secure, encrypted and maintained for privacy and confidentiality protections. Messaging integral to a Clinical Information System would comply. Separate non-integrated systems must meet discrete security standards. This reinforces our commitment to enable unified and integrated secure clinical messaging as an integral part of the Connect Care ecosystem.


New Connect Care Physician Design Lead

Dr. Alan Sobey joins Connect Care as its new Physician Design Lead. Dr. Sobey brings over 20 years of experience to the role, highly regarded as a surgeon and intensivist. He received his MD from the University of Alberta and will soon complete his Masters of Science in Health Information Science at the University of Victoria. In addition to his Design Lead role, Dr. Sobey will continue contributions as a Clinical Knowledge Lead, and remains clinically grounded in the Department of Critical Care at the University of Alberta. Dr. Sobey is the proud father of three and grandfather of two. He loves to cook, read, cycle and swim and has started to play the guitar (no tours in the offing!).


North Zone Associate CMIO

We are thrilled to have Dr. Hendric van der Watt join Connect Care as Associate Chief Medical Information Officer for the Alberta Health Services (AHS) North Zone. Hendrik brings over 10 years of clinical innovation experience to the CMIO portfolio, and is highly regarded for his collaborative approach to rural healthcare transformation and change management. Recently recognized with the Alberta College of Family Physicians Recognition of Excellence award, Dr. van der Watt works as a family physician out of the Bonnyville Health Centre where he is also a clinical lecturer with the University of Alberta department of family medicine. Hendrik received his MBChB from the University of Pretoria, Foundation Course of Occupational Medicine from the University of Alberta, Certificate of Internal Medicine from the University of Edinburgh and will complete an MBA at the University of Alberta in 2019 focusing on health information management for clinical improvement. An avid golfer and mountain quadder, he enjoys the Alberta’s outdoors with his wife and two daughters.


Alberta Clinical Trials Registry Online

Alberta’s universities, working with Alberta Health Services and the Northern Alberta Clinical Trials and Research Centre, now support an online database of clinical trials registered or active in Alberta. “Be The Cure” intends value for patients seeking information about possible new treatments, and for researchers planning new studies or recruiting for ongoing studies. Follow the link for more information. The link has also been added to the Clinical Improvement Collaboratory (clinicalimprovement.ca).​


Connect Care Physician Contributions

For Connect Care (CC) to support clinical improvement, it is vitally important that busy clinicians meaningfully integrate new informational supports into their workflows. This integration happens best when clinicians are organized, empowered and held accountable; these characteristics are all contingent on engagement and participation.

While formal roles strengthen CC’s clinical stewardship, larger numbers of engaged and organized physicians are needed to empower user groups, to provide quality assurance, to generate clinical innovation, to support clinical research, and to provide health education. These physicians empower all who help Albertans get value from the use of a Clinical Information System. Such “embedded” CC advocates make diverse contributions not defined by agreements between the physician and AHS.

While informal physician contributions are essential to CC success, they are also determinants of physician success. By participating in CC efforts, physicians can gain skills and access tools for innovation, teaching, quality improvement, research and professional development. The CMIO office is committed to helping clinicians realize benefits, track contributions, and achieve personal measures of success.​


Clinical Improvement Career Pathway

The AHS CMIO is committed to supporting career development for physicians who aspire to recognition as clinician innovators. All physician contributions to Connect Care can qualify for promotion evaluation. Indeed, the associated work can be organized as part of a coherent program to assess impact and report productivity.

The AHS “Clinical Improvement Career Pathway” describes how clinician innovator advancement can meet the requirements of alternate reimbursement plans, the Alberta Academic Medicine Health Services Program, and University evaluation and promotion policies. Aids include contribution reports that align with the science of clinical improvement.​


Connect Care Physician Leadership Roles

Strong physician leadership is required to promote care transformation with implementation of an AHS Provincial Clinical Information System (CIS). Physicians will be relied on heavily throughout the various phases of the Connect Care initiative for their knowledge, experience, and ability to mobilize their peers to action.

Physicians are needed for CC success. CC can also be a boon to physician success. The initiative offers once-in-a-career opportunities to develop leadership skills as part of a hugely impactful province-wide effort. Leaders join a superlative team, acquire new knowledge and skills, gain access to powerful clinical improvement capabilities, and can positively influence how clinical practice progresses in Alberta. A number of CC physician roles are available for interested and capable applicants. Follow the links for more information.


Clinical Improvement Projects – Funding Opportunity

​Alberta Health Services Medical Affairs and Quality Healthcare Improvement (QHI) are pleased to announce the Office of the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) is providing $225,000 Quality Innovation (QI) funding to support Quality Improvement projects for the 2018/19 fiscal year. Clinical informatics innovations for clinical improvement could be a good fit!  Follow the links for submission information by the March 2, 2018 deadline.


Connect Care - Giving Direction

For clinical improvement to follow Connect Care (CC) implementation, it is vitally important that physicians integrate new informational tools into daily workflows in a meaningful way. For this to happen, they must also be directly involved in decisions about how the CC Clinical Information System (CIS) is designed and configured. A system adapted to Alberta’s front-line opportunities and constraints has the best chance of success.

A key first opportunity for input comes during “Direction-Setting” sessions scheduled for early 2018. These tap into clinician perspectives to guide basic choices about how common workflows will be supported by Connect Care. Physicians participating in Direction-Setting will:
  • review groundwork information about common workflows and practices;
  • guide translation of optimized processes into Connect Care workflows;
  • ensure that proposed workflows align with AHS goals and policies.
We need your help! Please check out the FAQ link: 


Connect Care Orientation Training for Physicians

​Connect Care (CC) overview training introduces physicians to the CC initiative, how it relates to the AHS Provincial Clinical Information System (CIS), and an overview of the supporting Epic Systems software. The 2-day in-person experience provides an excellent foundation for understanding CIS capabilities, emphasizing how these can be used to improve healthcare outcomes. The course highlights how Epic’s most recent software integrates different applications and roles seamlessly across the continuum of care. Learnings serve as a foundation for physician participation in CC design, adoption, validation, testing, training and implementation activities. The orientation is also a prerequisite for proceeding to more advanced courses, including Physician Builder training. Common user experiences are demonstrated and explored through simulated clinical workflows. Sessions are hands-on and informal, giving lots of opportunity for questions and discussion. Two offerings are available soon: January 16/17 and 18/19 2018 in Edmonton.


Recognizing AHS Secure Emails

The AHS Connect Care initiative will support unified clinical communications, all securely integrated with the legal record of care. Until Connect Care is deployed, Alberta Health services (AHS) provides health care providers with the opportunity to transmit clinical information via secure email, including encrypted email to external addresses. This is enbled with an add-on to AHS Microsoft Exchange email services. Clinicians receiving encrypted emails sent to non-AHS email addresses may not recognize the source or type of communication; and might rightly suspect a phishing or hacking attempt. Emails from an AHS address that contain “You have received an email message secured by Private Post” in the body, and bear an “Encrypted_Message.htm” attachment, are okay to open and review.
Clinical Secure Messaging:
AHS Secure Email Guide:handbook.ahs-cis.ca/?=12164


AHS Medical Informatics Leads – Opportunity

AHS is seeking applications to fill Medical Informatics Lead (MIL) positions for a number of clinical areas in all AHS zones. A MIL is a well-established physician who advocates for AHS strategic information management initiatives, anticipates impacts on stakeholders, identifies issues, and helps to resolve problems.

Strong clinical leadership is required to promote care transformation with Clinical Information Systems. Indeed, physicians are relied on through all phases of the Connect Care journey; for their knowledge, experience, and ability to mobilize their peers to action. The MIL bridges clinical, professional and technical considerations during CIS implementations. MILs are recruited from clinical areas (sections, programs or departments) and are accountable to the relevant Associate CMIO and clinical area director within an AHS zone. Leadership capacity is more important than technical competence, as medical informatics leads work with key influencers in their clinical communities to promote workflow adaptation to the CIS and CIS adaptation to front-line clinical realities. These positions are supported for 0.2-0.4 FTE and available for immediate placement.

Check out the links for more information and application particulars.