Connect Care Professional Billing Supports

Many physicians fear that the Alberta Health Services (AHS) Connect Care clinical information system (CIS) will increase screen-time at the expense of patient-time. The concerns are understandable; and Connect Care design is driven by a commitment to decrease total information burdens for clinicians. A fully integrated system spares redundant data entry and, properly implemented, leverages collaboration to cut charting time.

Professional billing is a case in point. Many prescribers track, record and ‘bill’ for services rendered, even when employed or contracted to alternate reimbursement plans. Claims must detail patient diagnoses, co-morbidities, case complexity, related claims and other considerations. To the extent that this chore can be seamlessly integrated with CIS use, hassles decrease and total information burdens are eased. Connect Care can prove a big help to physicians who leverage CIS-integrated professional billing. The options offered are explained in a new Byte.


Connect Care Infrastructure Information

Robust infrastructure provides a sound foundation for the clinical information system (CIS) that will serve Connect Care's transformation goals. Reliable hardware, networks, devices and other technologies need to fit both clinical purpose and CIS capability.

The technology of Connect Care is important to understand. It is also important for clinicians to help guide technology choices toward what will serve Connect Care users best.

A new  section of the Connect Care Insite presence gathers and maintains information about data centres, networks, medical devices and other mission-critical technologies and initiatives.


Smart Stuff for Dummies

The Connect Care clinical information system (CIS) is empowered by Epic Systems software. As we grow more familiar with this robust health information ecosystem, we also appreciate that it's power is continually extended through use of toolkits that allow us to grow and optimize CIS clinical content.

As clinicians guide specialty clinical system design, they get more and more exposure to Epic's toolkits; and the documentation, decision and inquiry supports that can be built. We hear about lots of 'smart' things (SmartTools, SmartText, SmartPhrases, SmartLists, SmartLinks, SmartSets, SmartForms, etc.) ... and may be excused for feeling a bit 'dumb' for not appreciating exactly what these do or how they differ.

The Connect Care eHealth Glossary is recently enhanced with definitions of Epic smart stuff.


Alberta Referral Directory - Authentication-free Access

The Alberta Referral Directory (ARD) is a secure, online listing that provides access to service and consultant demographics, referral guidelines and instructions about how to facilitate efficient and effective referrals, including referral forms.

To remove barriers to access for community clinicians seeking referral information, a read-only view of ARD is now openly available via the Internet without need for a logon user name or password. Full information access, with editing rights, still requires a valid userid and password. The internet address remains easy to remember: www.albertareferraldirectory.ca

With ARD use expanding, all physicians are encouraged to update their referral information, or have responsible clinic staff take care of this for the clinic and all providers.


Reporting Health Informatics is Hard to Do!

Our clinician community can find it hard to understand, let alone explain, the nuanced differences between health information system initiatives in the province of Alberta; especially emerging opportunities for patients to participate more directly in managing their health information. We've previously blogged about Alberta's emerging personal health record (an Alberta Health offering building off of the provincial Netcare electronic health record), the anticipated Connect Care Patient Portal (providing diverse information services tethered to the AHS provincial clinical information system), and diverse patient portal services attached to non-AHS ambulatory care electronic medical records.

Understandably, the news media may also struggle to differentiate. Patient portals are a hot topic right now, possibly triggered by a recent CMAJ editorial calling for wider patient access to digital health records. CBC television recently ran a piece in which AHS was mentioned.

Our clinicians may have picked up a trivial inaccuracy. When discussing the dangers of patients trying to make sense of clinician-to-clinician communications, the example was an oncology report where the patient misunderstood "... NO esophageal carcinoma..." to mean negative, as in "no esophageal cancer." Clinicians would recognize the word in context and read "NO" as "nodes zero" as part of our standard nomenclature for classifying tumour status. The reporter claimed that the term really meant "number". Totally inconsequential error, but clinically entertaining.

A more substantive inaccuracy arose at the end of the segment, when the Netcare personal health record (PHR) was confused with the Connect Care Patient Portal (PP). The reporter was actually talking about the PHR, which indeed had its roll-out stalled for lack of an acceptable mobile interface. The reporter attributed this initiative to Alberta Health Services and used a Connect Care web page screenshot for illustration. In fact, the Connect Care Patient Portal is a different entity, tightly coupled to the CIS, and is not delayed (yet!).


Thank you Connect Care community!


We wanted to send along some words of appreciation and encouragement that we hear on a regular basis from Verna, ELT and our sponsors about the great work we are doing on Connect Care.  It is hard in the middle of everything going on to keep perspective on how far we have come. 

What we are doing is hard.  We are asking people to change what they have done for decades.  We are asking teams to make decisions in a hundredth of the time they are used to.  We are asking Connect Care teams to work at a pace and intensity we are not used to.  We are learning and growing as we do this work.  We are uniting a province in a way we have never done before.  It is not surprising that people are tired or getting snippy. 

Having said that, we have successfully pulled off 4 major conferences in as many months, we have answered over 2,000 questions, we have launched 24 Area Councils and many other work groups, we have established fundamental  or care content that will be used across the province, we have trained hundreds of people in a new tool and had them successfully start to configure it or start developing training materials.  We are helping the organization understand what this means for them, we are working as a team to grapple with any number of important questions.  You did that.  Every one of you should be incredibly proud of the work you are doing. 

We know that measuring progress can be tough on teams.  Know that the leadership in the organization see the progress reporting not as a failure on anyone’s part, but places where we need to provide more support.  There are so many things in play right now, we need to know who needs our support the most to remove roadblocks and help you. 

The organization as a whole is in awe of what you are doing.  We will have good days and bad days, but we are strong as a team, and we will have those together.

We hope you all have some downtime planned this long weekend with family and friends.  Thank you for all you are doing.

Penny, Barb and Rob


Adoption & Validation 2 Sessions August 14-16, 2018

Over 1500 subject matter experts (SMEs) and participants from across Alberta will be meeting in Edmonton at the Shaw Convention Centre from August 14-16 for the second of three Adoption & Validation sessions.

Earlier this year during the Direction Setting Sessions, participants made thousands of decisions that we have used to build parts of the Connect Care clinical information system (CIS). The purpose of Validation & Adoption is to review, validate and adopt how Direction Setting and other decisions are expressed in the emerging CIS. The second session gives opportunity for participants to contribute to  additional choices about how the system can support enhanced workflows.