2018-08-03

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!).

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