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 or a news reader (RSS feed).

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.


Save the Date: Why Clinical Quality Management Should be a Core Focus

Dr. Brent James presents  in the AHS President Speaker Series on February 1, 2019,  about how internal evidence (information we gather about those we serve) can drive quality healthcare delivery and improve health outcomes.

Albertans trust us to learn from every encounter they have with the healthcare system. With Connect Care, we have a renewed opportunity to use the clinical information we gather to guide our practices, make improvements across the system, and further cement Alberta Health Services as an organization dedicated to continuous learning.

Dr. James is world-renowned for his work in improving the quality of patient care while reducing the cost of treatment. He is currently part of the Master of Health Care Administration faculty at the University of Utah, and was previously Chief Quality Officer and Executive Director of the Institute for Health Care Delivery at Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City.


Learning to Love your CIS - 5 - Hopes

The clinical information system (CIS) toolkit available to Connect Care is vastly superior to anything we’ve seen before. Even so, the key to success remains support for our people.

So what do clinicians want? We took time to ask that question… through focus groups, surveys and town hall discussions with clinicians across Alberta.

The responses grouped into 5 themes that now drive Connect Care design and build. Our clinicians seek: Convenience, Connection, Customization, Consolidation, and Control. Each category is explored in the final part of our recent Wave 1 Launch event presentations. Follow the link to view the last part of our presentation, with further links to slides and handouts.


Learning to Love your CIS - 4 - Day-in-the-Life

During our recent Wave 1 Launch event, we tallied some of the ways in which Electronic Health Records (EHR) can negatively affect clinical practice. We also categorized fears prevalent among our physician colleagues, while highlighting tangible preparations that could protect us from harm. Clearly, we seek an experience different from what we find in a jittery EHR press.

So, what might that experience look like? The likely answer for most of us is: not what we imagine. Perhaps the simplest way of portraying this is to consider how Connect Care could help a typical AHS physician; before, during and after direct patient contact.

Follow the link to view our presentation and demonstrations, with further links to slides and handouts. An AHS user name and password will be required to view these presentations.


Learning to Love your CIS - 3 - Fears

The consistent lesson from studies of large clinical information system (CIS) initiatives is that success is contingent first on people, then process, and finally matters of product. Almost all the problems cited in the "EHR State of Mind" rap can be addressed when our people use informatics to serve, not enslave, good process.

Obviously, fearful people do not perform well. We must face our fears in order to have credible hope.

Our analysis of the CIS engagement literature, media, and local consultations boils down to 5 fears; that the coming CIS will be: inconvenient, inefficient, institutionalizing, insensitive and insatiable… with the sum of all fears that Connect Care will Disconnect us from Care.

As part of our recent Wave 1 Launch event, we examined each class of fear in turn, calling out what we are doing through Connect Care design, build, training and change-management to mitigate possible harms. Follow the link to view this part of our presentation, with further links to slides and handouts.


Learning to Love your CIS - 2 - CIS Dysphoria

The ZDoggMD "EHR State of Mind" video rap has been getting a lot of attention among our physician communities. It does a great job characterizing "CIS Dysphoria", channelling a number points made in more traditional communications about the effects of Electronic Health Record (EHR) initiatives south of the border.

As part of our recent Wave 1 Launch event, we inventoried the potential harms highlighted in this popular diatribe, linking those to studies of the impacts of EHRs on clinical practice. Follow the link to view the video, then our appraisal, with further links to slides and handouts.


Learning to Love your CIS - 1 - Why it Matters

Inspired by a vision of “Better Health, Powered by Information”, the Connect Care value proposition emphasizes consolidation of over 1,300 information systems into a comprehensive, continuum of care, clinical information system (or CIS).

That’s fine for Alberta Health Services, but why should physicians care about Connect Care? Answering this question really matters. If clinicians do not embrace the CIS, it is unlikely that any meaningful use will take hold.

Our recent Wave 1 Launch event gave opportunity to consider how we can move from fear through hope to adoption and leverage of the Connect Care CIS. Follow the link to view the first part of our presentation, with further links to slides and handouts.


Wave 1 Launch Event a Success

The first Connect Care launch in November, 2019, will bring the University of Alberta Hospital, Stollery Hospital, Mazankowski Heart Institute and all eCLINICIAN clinics to full clinical information system (CIS) implementation. On Thursday January 17, 2019, these sites kicked off what will be a busy year of preparation, training and change-management.

With so much to do before launch, it was heartening to witness sustained energy throughout a day of presentations, demonstrations and discussions. In addition to hearing from site leaders (and participating in a surprise flash mob dance!), participants had the chance to visit a variety of information booths where devices and systems were available for hands-on learning.

The day finished with a 2-hour presentation and panel discussion for clinicians, sponsored by the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Society. This too was well attended. Participant questions focused on CIS readiness. Parts of the physician presentations and demonstrations are available for streaming via subsequent vlog.connect-care.ca postings:


Connect Care January 18 2019 Newsletter Posted

The January 19, 2019, Connect Care Newsletter is available via the link below; covering wave sequencing updates, new Playbook content and Super User recruitment.


New Communications Channel for Medical Informaticians

With the first Connect Care launch soon upon us (November 2019), it is essential that relevant communications get to those starting training, readiness and launch preparations. This BytesBlog (bytes.connect-care.ca or bytesblog.ca) channel, which previously catered to physicians interested in health informatics, will change its focus to Connect Care news of broad appeal.

A new channel, informatics.connect-care.ca, favours the more specific communication needs of physician informatics leaders, super users, power users, trainers and builders.


Power Opportunity for Physicians

Physician Power Users attain certification in advanced use of Connect Care clinical information system (CIS) capabilities. They work with interested clinical peers, bringing to bear deep knowledge about use of personalization, text automation, order panels and other aids to smooth CIS workflows. They help themselves and others achieve maximum CIS efficiency and effectiveness.

The Power User training and qualification can pursued by any physician wishing to optimize CIS use, or added to any existing Connect Care physician role. Online courses are offered by Epic, delivered through self-directed online learning and scheduled webinars. Ideally, physicians will already be either CIS users (eCLINICIAN counts) or otherwise oriented to CIS use (physician orientation training or equivalent). Clinical departments and divisions may want to recruit some Power Users now, as they can make a big difference to implementation in the coming years. Contact CMIO@AHS.ca if interested.

  • Byte: Physician Power Users
  • Tip: Power User Registration in Epic Training Portal
  • Guide: Connect Care Physician Contributions
  • 2019-01-15

    Who's who in the CIS zoo?

    Diverse physician contributions have proved invaluable to Connect Care groundwork, direction-setting, system design and validation. With testing, training and readiness our emerging priorities, new types of contributions will keep Connect Care on course through implementation and optimization.

    There are many leadership roles that physicians bring to the Connect Care initiative, and many more contributions that are embedded in everyday clinical practice. It can be hard making sense of all the names for these positions, contributions and qualifications.

    We've recently updated guides to Connect Care physician roles and contributions. We've also updated position descriptions and 1-page overviews that, for example, better define what Super Users and Power Users do. Take a look. We are keen to help as many physicians as possible to tool-up for clinical information system implementation.


    Connect Care Wave 1 Launch Event - Update & Telehealth

    On Thursday, January 17, staff and physicians are invited to discuss and learn about the the Connect Care Wave 1 launch later this year at the Walter C Mackenzie Campus and Edmonton Zone eCLINICIAN outpatient clinics.

    Drop-in booths (09:00-16:00) in the Bernard Snell Hall lobby give visitors a chance to view demonstrations of Connect Care clinical information system (CIS) functions, ask about training and readiness preparations, and get a hands-on look at some devices and tools being considered for clinical workplaces.

    A lunchtime celebration tracks where we are in the Connect Care journey, with sharing from Dr. Yiu and site leaders.

    Later in the day, a special session for physicians takes place in the Snell Hall Auditorium between 16:00-18:00. A presentation exploring physician fears and hopes is followed by ample opportunity for questions and discussion.


    Looking for Physician Area Trainers

    We have previously posted about Connect Care Provincial Physician Trainers (PPTs) and Connect Care Area Physician Trainers (APTs). Most PPTs are appointed and completing certification. We are ready to recruit APTs. They will focus on the needs of specific clinical specialties and facilities, working under the guidance of PPTs.

    Connect Care endeavours to have physicians train physicians. APTs fan out to make this possible across specialties and geographies. They support power users and super users while also directly guiding Connect Care users through the training, personalization, launch and optimization stages of implementation.

    The Alberta Health Services (AHS) Chief Medical Information Officer portfolio works with AHS Zones to recruit the right number and diversity of APTs for successful launch. We are keen to identify clinicians who could benefit Connect Care while growing with the APT opportunity.


    Why Doctors Hate Their Computers - 4

    We continue reflection that began with a previous posting about Dr. Atul Gawande's: "Why Doctors Hate Their Computers" New Yorker article.

    The publication has lit fires across the Internet and Blogsphere;  clouding conversations about Alberta Health Service's (AHS) upcoming clinical information system (CIS) implementation.

    Dr. Gawande's writing resonates with widespread frustration among American physicians, channelling anger about decreased physician satisfaction with today's experience of health care. Memorable quips, such as "revenge of the ancillaries", add to free-floating anxiety about the collateral damage brought by enterprise electronic health record (EHR) initiatives.

    Connect Care bears no illusions about how its CIS could impact physicians. We have gone to great lengths to learn from the unanticipated and unwanted struggles of others. We continue to study the fears of our own physicians. Indeed, much of our planning turns on harms-reduction, including careful mitigation of four major harms explored by Dr. Gawande:
    1. Increased Complexity,
    2. Decreased Control,
    3. Decreased Clarity, and
    4. Increased Brittleness.
    We'll expand on each of these in upcoming postings. Thanks to all the AHS ACMIOs, physician design leads, directors and analysts who help with these reflections.


    Why Doctors Hate Their Computers - 3 - Ways to make EHRs less Time-Consuming

    We previously posted about Dr. Atul Gawande's: "Why Doctors Hate Their Computers".  A recent Harvard Business Review article offers strategies for dealing with the most hate-worthy effects of Electronic Health Records (EHR) in the United States. All suggestions resonate with Dr. Gawande's reflection that our problems have more to do with people and processes than products or technology.

    1. Standardize and reduce insurance-imposed documentation burdens
    As observed by others, the same EHR blamed for burnout in some implementations is credited for satisfaction and retention in other settings. A better predictor of burnout appears to be documentation burden, whether paper or digital. There are huge reimbursement-related micro-documentation pressures in the United States. Whether these have a net-positive effect on health care, in addition to health care billings, is a key question. In any case, it is possible and desirable to deploy EHRs in ways that significantly reduce total informational burdens for physicians.

    2. Improve EHR workflows
    To the extent that EHRs replicate pre-existing workflows, a huge transformation opportunity is missed. When organizations pair improvement with implementation, many informational peeves are eased, not exacerbated. Process steps can be removed and pathways streamlined. Such optimizations, increase clinician satisfaction and contribute to the variability in reports of physician burnout.

    3. Use EHRs to Leverage Innovation
    When a digital health record integrates across the continuum of care, health information can flow more like a public utility... a dependable resource that consumer-facing innovations do not have to re-invent. The energy of innovation can shift from system to user. For example, dramatic improvements in the EHR experience follow release of mobile EHR Apps with guessable user interfaces. More importantly, mobility has stimulated release of standardized application interfaces (e.g., Epic's App Orchard) that innovators can use to produce even better user experiences. These reflect the peculiarities of end-user needs and preferences. It is exciting to contemplate innovation unleashed by health record standardization.

    The original article is a quick read:


    Recruiting Connect Care Super Users

    Many of us are part of the first Connect Care clinical information system (CIS) launch later this year. With implementation anxiety growing, we may feel a bit better knowing that capable and confident "Super Users" will be close at hand and ready to help.

    Super Users support peers in clinical areas, helping them adapt to new workflows, processes and norms while building capacity for meaningful use of the Connect Care CIS. Physician Super Users facilitate prescriber participation in readiness activities, ensure authentic CIS testing, and build relationships to support physicians “at the elbow” prior to, during and following launch.  Super Users get early CIS training and a variety of change agent supports.

    With only 10 months (note the new countdown top left!) to go until Wave 1 launch, we need to start thinking about Super Users. Recruitment begins next month, starting with Wave 1 units, departments, areas and locations. Now is the time to start identifying those who could be a good fit for this role.

    Visit the Connect Care intranet for general information and email ConnectCareSuperUsers@ahs.ca with nominations. For Physician Super User nominations, email cmio@ahs.ca.


    Willy Wonka and the Medical Software Factory

    Alberta Health Services (AHS) is well into its Connect Care journey. Part of the adventure involves getting to know, and closely collaborate with, an extraordinary medical software company. Of course collaboration not always easy, but there is no doubt that our partnership with Epic long ago merited sharing the "we" pronoun.

    The New York Times recently ran a piece about Epic, its philosophy, leadership and campus. Worth a quick read for some insights to our technology partner's personality.

    The comments are worth a quick skim (don flak jacket first) to gauge US backlash against electronic health records. "We" need to do better.


    Why Doctors Love Their Computers - 2

    We previously posted about an influential piece by Dr. Atul Gawande: "Why Doctors Hate Their Computers".  The New Yorker article continues to attract a lot of attention, and is an essential read for all involved in the Connect Care clinical information system (CIS) launch later this year.

    The article has stirred social media widely, stimulating a lot of great discussion.

    A UC San Diego physician group (also on Epic) have recently shared reflections about "Why Doctors Love Their Computers" while acknowledging that there remains lots of room for improvement. A good, quick, read that lists 10 reasons why, from primary care and hospitalist perspectives:
    Among the reasons we hope to realize are: convenience of mobility, better connections with the circle of care, easier access to essential health information (problems, meds, allergies, etc.), better on-call supports, leveraging documentation of others, faster admissions with personalized ordersets, streamlined discharge summaries, and prescribing that is both easier and safer.


    Connect Care Oversight: Stakeholder Advisory Group

    For the Alberta Health Services (AHS) Connect Care initiative to succeed, patients, providers and support staff must integrate informational supports into workflows. This happens best when clinical information system (CIS) users have meaningful input into the decisions that affect their CIS experience. A robust oversight strategy with clear governance principles has helped guide Connect Care by purpose and principles.

    Sustaining success requires nimble ways to tap into what is happening on the front lines, while monitoring for unanticipated problems. Community-aware calibration requires purposeful consultation with both advisory groups and user groups, tapping into organizational wisdom and end-user pragmatism. As we ready for first launch late this year, advisory group activity ramps up while user groups start to get established.

    The Connect Care Stakeholder Advisory Group has its first meeting this week, a good reminder to refresh our shared understanding of how Connect Care oversight works.


    Connect Care Inquiry & Research Support Webinars

    We’ve previously posted about how the Connect Care clinical information system (CIS) will support clinical inquiry. Connect Care, at its core, is about inquiry and research – learning from the care we deliver to Albertans. We initiate inquiry when we ask questions about what we do and we participate in research when using systematic approaches to answering those questions.

    Connect Care affords us powerful tools for inquiry and research support. As these take shape, there is growing interest in what is possible and when it will be available. The Connect Care Clinical Inquiry and Research Team helps by hosting a series of monthly demonstrations showcasing research capabilities and workflows.  The webinars also give opportunity to put questions to the Connect Care team.

    Upcoming inquiry & research management webinars are planned as follows:
    • Monday Jan 21st, 2019 12 PM-1PM
    • Tues Feb 19th, 2019 12 PM-1 PM
    • Mon Mar 18th, 2019 12 PM-1 PM
    • Mon Apr 15th, 2019 12 PM-1PM
    To request a webinar invitation, please contact CC.Research@ahs.ca. For more information about Connect Care inquiry and research supports, please see relevant Connect Care Handbook entries:


    Re-jigging Communications in the New Year

    This year (2019) brings Connect Care to its first launch, Wave 1 in the Edmonton Zone on November 2. Where 2018 focused on scope, workflow, configuration and clinical content design, the new year emphasis continues build while starting testing, training, change management and implementation.

    Most Connect Care participants continue invaluable contributions, building on all that has been learned since we started our journey. The many new participants pulled into readiness prep need help building a Connect Care awareness sufficient to their needs.

    Both Connect Care newcomers and veterans can benefit from reinforcement of key concepts and re-connection with key communication channels. We'll use this blog to help followers re-cycle and re-invigorate.

    For starters:


    School for Change Agents - Free Webinar Opportunities

    Alberta Health Services has enjoyed innovative input from Helen Bevan (@helenbevan) on more than one occasion. A thought-leader in healthcare engagement, adoption and change management, she has helped initiate a "School for Change Agents" through the National Health Service in Britain.

    A series of free online 5 webinars start later this year. International participants are welcomed.

    With 2019 bringing transformation through Connect Care implementation, most of us can benefit from new ideas about change awareness, support and management. Please consider registering, as below.


    Connect Care Wave 1 Launch Event

    In collaboration with the University of Alberta and Stollery Hospital Medical Staff Society, Alberta Health Services presents in the leadership lecture series about:

    "Connect Care: Learning to Love your Clinical Information System"
    January 17, 2019, 1600-1800, Bernard Snell Hall, Walter C Mackenzie Centre, Edmonton,
    with videoconferencing widely available.
    A wine and cheese reception will follow in the foyer.

    The presenting panel includes Rob Hayward (CMIO), Tim Graham (Associate CMIO), Stuart Rosser (Physician Design Lead), Stewart Hamilton (Senior Medical Advisor), Jacques Lovely (Senior Leader Clinical Operations) and local Connect Care leaders.

    Session objectives:
    • Share updates about Connect Care status and launch timelines
    • Understand Connect Care conditions for success
    • Explore clinician fears and hopes
    We hope to see as many clinicians as possible at this kick-off event for the first wave launch (November 2019).


    Why Doctors Love Their Computers - 1

    We previously posted about an influential piece by Dr. Atul Gawande: "Why Doctors Hate Their Computers".  The New Yorker article has attracted a lot of attention, upping our clinicians' angst about the Connect Care clinical information system (CIS) launch later this year.

    The Gawande article, and many others like it, raises important considerations for us as we move from system design through testing, adoption, training and readiness. Harms reduction is, unequivocally, the biggest chunk of change management.

    However, Dr. Gawande's concerns reflect (roughly) just one dimension of our prospects. Many of his concerns do not, exactly, apply to our situation. Other challenges need to be exposed, explored, and mitigated. More importantly, there is a huge upside for physicians that we also need to understand, plan for, and realize.

    BytesBlog will devote the first postings of 2019 to an exploration of how we can move from "why doctors hate their computers" to "why doctors love their computers." I have no doubt that we will come to love the Connect Care achievement. But we have a lot of stormy transformation to navigate first. Please use BytesBlog comments and email links to contribute your thoughts, helping us broaden the discussion and prepare together to take ownership of CIS use... for success!

    Obviously, we are not alone in these discussions. A recent HealthcareITNews article references a report about how vendors (specifically Epic) are connecting with physicians to better understand the information management problems they need to solve. A related American Medical Association initiative, the "Digital Health Implementation PlayBook" captures practical steps clinicians can take to benefit from eHealth, while avoiding harms.


    What a year, going and coming!

    What a year its been... and what a year to come!

    Congratulations to the Connect Care build team, who worked to a December 31 deadline for build buckets 1-4... and made it! Thanks also to the many committees, workgroups, experts, advisors and validators who worked the deliberations guiding design. The outcome is a Connect Care clinical information system (CIS) environment with AHS workflows, preferences and needs expressed; a major milestone in an incredibly big and complex venture!

    The outcome is important, but so too is the process. We've built effective oversight, support, design and configuration capacity. Diverse stakeholders have learned how to work efficiently, forging a provincial perspective on how a digitally-enabled healthcare workplace should emerge and evolve.

    The New Year begins with another deadline rush. All essential clinical system design (CSD) decisions need to be set by February 8, 2019. We are about 75% there, moving at a pace that should close the gap on time. Parallel CSD build continues, providing us with the documentation, decision and inquiry supports that will allow Connect Care to support clinical improvement.

    Moving forward, our focus shifts from design and build to testing, training and readiness. The wave 1 first launch is a mere 10 months away. A lot of tough work coming in 2019! But we continue our Connect Care journey with confidence born of tremendous accomplishment already to hand.