Clinical Information Sharing Approach - FAQ

The Alberta Health Services (AHS) Clinical Information Sharing Approach (CISA) came into full effect from January 1, 2018. It replaces prior Information Sharing Frameworks that applied to AHS ambulatory care Electronic Medical Records.

Now that CISA is part of new physician orientation and privacy training materials, some questions are common. These are addressed in a new FAQ, supplementing other CISA resources:


What is Psychological Safety?

Just came across a great online presentation about promoting a culture of safety, and can see how this might apply to the front line vigilance needed to detect possible harms associated with digital health record implementations. The talk is given by Curt Johnston, Associate Zone Medical Director for Edmonton Zone.


Connect Care Area Councils

Connect Care Area Councils (CCACs) provide the clinical and operational leadership to Connect Care. They report to the Connect Care Council, providing advocacy about professional and practice issues specific to major clinical programs, such as surgery, medicine, child health, women's health, mental health, emergency and cancer care. CCACs support best practices through the design, configuration, customization, implementation and ongoing optimization of Connect Care clinical information system.

Follow the links to learn more about CCACs:


Connect Care Oversight

With Connect Care design and build activities racing forwards, many have been wondering about how Connect Care oversight will assure effective coordination of the many emerging activities... and continued meaningful clinical input. This week's blogs focus on matters of oversight, giving context for understanding where Connect Care Clinical Area Councils fit and how they operate.

For starters, area councils are part of a larger Connect Care Oversight strategy. This assures that the initiative is well run, guided by purpose and tempered by pragmatism. Follow the link for a brief overview.


Alberta Referral Directory

The ARD is a secure, online directory that provides access to service and consultant demographics, referral guidelines and instructions about how to facilitate efficient and effective referrals, including referral forms. The ARD centralizes referral information for Alberta Health Services (AHS) consulting physicians and AHS scheduled ambulatory services.

The ARD goal is to spare clinicians from the need to publish referral information in multiple areas. ARD updates are real-time, easy to maintain, and more reliable than paper directories.

Follow the links for more information. AHS consulting clinicians should use the guide to help access the ARD and update or correct information found there.


Provincial Clinical Guidance Available Online

Healthcare providers and patients can find the latest Alberta Health Services (AHS) clinical guidance and standards via a Clinical Knowledge Viewer on Insite. Clinical guidance is about how to provide the best possible care in AHS settings, drawing upon the work of Strategic Clinical Networks, Clinical Knowledge & Content Management (CKCM) and other sources. The Viewer includes summaries of new and updated guidelines, standards, pathways and other decision supports.

The CKCM team helps gather evidence-informed clinical guidance so it can be rendered for inclusion in the Connect Care clinical information system (CIS). By embedding information about what works in the CIS, AHS teams can put knowledge to work when they need it most. The same guidance can inform current  workflows while transitioning to Connect Care.

Over the past three months alone, the CKCM team has engaged with 1,235 clinicians, 480 physicians and 117 clinical working groups to develop provincial clinical guidance optimized for AHS settings. CKCM collaborates with clinical operations, Strategic Clinical Networks, provincial clinical services and content experts across Alberta so that healthcare professionals help one another to improve care.

Visit the Clinical Knowledge Viewer to see all available guidance and standards or contact the CKCM group for more information.

Provider Self-Serve Portal Available

Alberta's Provider Self-Serve Portal (PSSP) is a secure web-based service that allows authorized healthcare providers to manage and edit key information about their practice and how they can be contacted. PSSP also gives providers the ability to view contact information shared from the Provincial Provider Registry. The intent of PSSP is to make it easier for both Alberta Health Services (AHS) and non-AHS healthcare providers to connect with each other - particularly about critical test results or a public health emergency. The long-term vision is to provide a simplified way for providers to update information in the Provincial Provider Registry; synchronized with and used by all health information systems in Alberta.


Connect Care Non-Production Environment Ready

The new Acheson Data Centre now upgrades Alberta Health Services with two separate data centres in Edmonton and in two in Calgary. Among other mission-critical health information assets,  the complete non-production Epic 2017 system has been deployed in preparation for the planned Epic 2018 upgrade in March of this year. This pre-implementation environment supports all Connect Care design and build activities. It also provides a location where newly certified configuration teams can ready workflows and content designed for a full production environment nearer to go-live in 2019.


Connect Care Patient Portal

Connect Care will help Alberta Health Services (AHS) provide better care to patients and families. Better care is promoted when patients are empowered, participate in decision-making, connect plans to goals, and share responsibility for health outcomes. Accordingly, AHS commits to deploying patient-centred health information services as a core Connect Care offering. A Connect Care Patient Portal, part of the integrated health record, facilitates seamless health care.

The CC Patient Portal uses Epic's "MyChart" software, customized to the needs of Alberta's patients and families. This software has been piloted in the Edmonton Zone in family medicine and specialist clinics. Well received by patients and clinicians alike, the patient portal has improved appointment scheduling, streamlined clinic communications and even prevented unnecessary emergency visits.
A more advanced version, with more functions enabled, will be offered to all Albertans served by AHS, likely within the early years of the Connect Care journey. It will help patients and families manage all AHS interactions and will facilitate care during and between encounters.

Follow the links for more information. A portals committee oversees the Patient Portal design and deployment and welcomes input from interested providers and patients.


Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association - Connect Care Event

All physicians and trainees in the Edmonton Zone; mark your calendars for March 1, 2018 from 1630 to 1830. The EZ Medical Staff Association in partnership with the Departments of Medicine and Surgery and the University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, hold a Connect Care kick-off event to include presentations, demonstrations, and discussion followed by wine and cheese. The presentation will focus on what clinicians want from Connect Care.

For more information:


What is Connect Care Clinical System Design?

Clinical System Design (CSD) is the process for planning, selecting, designing and building clinical content in the Connect Care clinical information system (CIS) to support patient care. It is one of the major activities taking place during the design phase of the Connect Care initiative, together with Groundwork, Direction-Setting, Adoption and Validation. Clinical content refers to the documentation, decision and inquiry support tools that are built into the CIS to support best possible practice.

Clinical documentation includes things like templates, flowsheets, forms and questionnaires.
Clinical decision support tools are of five types: references, reminders, alerts, assists and guides. Assists include calculators, decision rules and order sets. Guides include pathways, plans of care and guides to best practice.
Clinical inquiry support tools include chronic disease registries, key performance indicators, and in-system analytics that help users answer questions about personal or system performance.


Connect Care Direction Setting 1 Finishes Well!

The first of three direction setting conferences concluded today, with excellent results and feedback.

A warm thank you to all participants for taking time in from busy schedules to attend and contribute. It can be exceptionally difficult to protect so much time on such short notice. Some will have begged colleagues to cross-cover: please extend our thanks to them. Others will have had the inconvenience of changed clinic, attending or procedure arrangements. Again, extended thanks.

Having so many clinicians active in early Connect Care build activities has been invaluable. Trust that “parking lot” content will find its way to Connect Care Committees, Councils, Workgroups and future direction-setting, validation and clinical system design sessions. Please reach with questions or recommendations.

AHS is most grateful for all the interest in and support for this transformative project. Reposted here is our CEO's Vlog marking the launch of Connect Care build.


Connect Care Kick-off

More than 2,400 Alberta Health Services (AHS) staff, physicians and volunteers gathered in Edmonton today for the first of three Direction Setting sessions. The event also gave opportunity to celebrate the start of the Connect Care journey. We were thrilled to have deputy minister of health Milton Sussman and AHS CEO Verna Yiu ground our efforts with a strong sense of purpose and value.

A massive conference, with countless sessions intricately streamed, the true impact may have less to do with direction setting and more to do with direction sharing. One feels that AHS has matured as a provincial organization, fully able to rally around a common intent and shared commitment. There will be many challenges along the way -- and success is far from assured -- but today one felt fuel for progress!

One of our Fort McMurray colleagues, Dr. Mayank Singal, captured the spirit well:
“We’re on the first day of the Direction Setting sessions, and it was a very encouraging and exciting morning. And I am amazed by the potential that we have here. I really do believe that in 5 to 10 years from now we will have the most amazing infrastructure in Canada, and perhaps the world.”


Why does Connect Care matter?

The foundation of Connect Care is a clinical information system (CIS) that will transform how we use and access information. Building the CIS is a huge undertaking. Ten build principles - about how CIS design should reflect, not set, our values - emerged from extensive stakeholder consultation. Theses are summarized in a document and explained in the presentation below.


What is Connect Care Groundwork?

Groundwork occurs during the first phase (year 1) of Clinical Information System (CIS) implementation. It is a major Connect Care activity, alongside Direction-Setting, Validation and Clinical System Design.

Groundwork is about discovery. Groundwork analysis helps Epic get to know Alberta Health Services (AHS) and how its goals set the scope and expectations for a CIS. The Groundwork process reciprocally helps AHS explore Epic capabilities, so that early decisions can be made about where the CIS will enable existing practices and where it will be designed for post-transformation practices.

Groundwork is also about commitment. Groundwork decisions, primarily made by Connect Care leadership, recognize requirements for success, define Connect Care's scope, empower oversight structures, affirm decision-making principles, and set bounds for the CIS foundation build.


Connect Care Update: Requirements for Success

To help Connect Care move forward, the Connect Care Executive Committee recently identified several requirements for success. These reflect the needs of patients and healthcare providers, preparing to respond consistency and efficiency throughout AHS. Committing to high-level requirements is important because the decisions provide a foundation for designing the Connect Care clinical information system. Six key requirements were recently approved:
  1. AHS will seek HIMSS Stage 6 Certification
  2. AHS will adopt digital identification tools
  3. AHS will adopt digital identities (signatures)
  4. AHS will promote use of in-system documentation tools
  5. AHS will promote use of a Connect Care Provider Portal
  6. AHS will support flexible bed planning at the level of sites, programs, zones, and the province
​For more information:


Building the Connect Care CIS

Connect Care 2018 builds the clinical information system (CIS) that will be tested in 2019 and deployed in 2020 through 2022. During the critically important design period, Alberta Health Services (AHS) configures a foundation build and continually improves it to become the technology platform for clinical transformation.  Complementary activities inform the build:
  • Groundwork is about discovery. Epic and Alberta Health Services (AHS) exchange information about how teams deliver care across Alberta.
  • Direction Setting is about workflow, or how AHS does what it does. This includes how patients move from service to service, how practitioner roles interact, and how processes need to adapt in specific settings.
  • Clinical System Design is about populating the CIS with documentation, decision support, order entry and improvement support tools to ease best practices.
  • Validation is about getting it right. Subject matter experts review how the CIS takes shape to ensure that information flows support workflows.
For more information about how these activities are timed and relate to one another:


Connect Care Build Launch - Telehealth Invitation

As Alberta Health Services (AHS) Connect Care (connect-care.ca) builds momentum, important Direction-Setting work is about to begin in Edmonton. For those who cannot make the opening session, telehealth links are available province-wide (see links).

From February 13 - 15, 2018, AHS healthcare providers and staff from across Alberta gather in Edmonton to start to design the Connect Care Clinical Information System (CIS).  Direction-Setting sessions focus on workflows, which are the series of tasks that take place as patient care is provided. We will be looking at how tasks are accomplished, in what order, and by which care provider, to determine how the CIS can support and improve the way we work. From 09:30 - 11:30 we hold the official launch of Connect Care design and build. AHS leaders, clinicians and teams can view the launch via Telehealth links provided throughout AHS and partner facilities.


What is Connect Care Direction-Setting?

Direction-Setting is one of the major activities occurring during design of the Connect Care (CC) Clinical Information System (CIS). Other activities include Groundwork, Validation & Adoption and Clinical System Design.

Where Groundwork helps the Epic team learn about AHS as an organization, Direction Setting explores how AHS does its work and how the CIS will work for AHS. The purpose of Direction-Setting is to prepare for a CIS foundation build that it supports further work, rather than getting in the way. Clinical System Design digs deeper, tuning the CIS to support specific healthcare lines of service.​


What is a SME?

​There is a lot of talk about SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) in Connect Care right now. Unfortunately, the timing of this talk may contribute to confusion, since conversations about SMEs and 'Direction-Setting Sessions' are happening at the same time. Some worry that not participating in Direction-Setting equates to not giving direction to Connect Care, and not being recognized for perspectives that Connect Care should accommodate.

In fact, a wide range of contributions are made through diverse design activities across the entire Connect Care journey. Follow the link to learn more about what a SME does, and all the times and places where SMEs do.


Important Transformations Beyond our Reach

​Just read an Economist article that nicely summarizes sea-changes in how health data is gathered and used.... all outside the reach of the conventional health care sector. More data accrues in personal devices than in electronic health records, fastest growth is in virtual consults, and micro-medical devices are proliferating. Worth the skim...


Primary Health Care Program Update

The Alberta Health Services (AHS) Primary Health Care Program (PHC) promotes collaboration of community, practitioners and AHS partners to enhance the healthcare system through sustainable high-performing primary care services. Current attention focuses on medical homes, medical neighborhoods and medical communities.

The PHC vision and strategic efforts are nicely summarized in a February 2018 update, as linked.


ACMIO North = Doc of the Week!

A real pleasure to find Dr. Hendrick van der Witt's accomplishments recognized in the Chief Medical Office Doc-of-the-Week column:


Connect Care Town Hall - North Zone

All Alberta Health Services North Zone physicians are encouraged to join a virtual Town Hall hosted by Dr. Hendrik van der Watt, the new Associate Chief Medical Information Officer for the zone. Follow the link for more information about how to join the February 9, 2018, 0715-0745 event. An overview of the initiative will be shared to set the stage for questions and answers.