The government of British Columbia has set in motion a province-wide $148-million health-care initiative that aims to reduce wait times for medical procedures, cut costs by reducing unnecessary re-tests, and provide medical practitioners with faster access to patient information

B.C. government sets $148M EHR project in motion

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The government of British Columbia has set in motion a province-wide $148-million health-care initiative that aims to reduce wait times for medical procedures, cut costs by reducing unnecessary re-tests, and provide medical practitioners with faster access to patient information.

These benefits are courtesy of an electronic health-care system that will store patient medical records and laboratory test results so they can be shared among health-care professionals across the province.

The new setup will be based on Solaris 10 architecture and operating system by Burnaby, Vancouver-based Sun Microsystems of Canada. It will be created and deployed by Sun, in tandem with MedPlus, First Consulting Group (FCG), CGI Group, and Telus.

While individual hospitals and health regions in the province currently have medical systems that give access to patient data, they don’t allow for information sharing, says Andy Canham, president of Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc.

“If you were in Victoria and went to Vancouver and suddenly needed access to medical care, those records aren’t necessarily available today,” he says.

The system has two components: the Provincial Laboratory Information Solution (PLIS) and the interoperable Electronic Health Record (iEHR) systems.

PLIS will provide authorized clinicians across the province with electronic access to laboratory tests and results from public and private laboratory service providers. iEHR, on the other hand, will provide health-care workers access to patient medical records and other clinical data from pharmacies, laboratories and diagnostic imaging systems.

Sun and FCG will develop and implement iEHR using FCG’s FirstGateways Suite, a family of products that integrate clinical and business data.

PLIS will be designed and implemented by MedPlus, a developer and integrator of clinical connectivity and health-care data management tools.

In addition, Sun will develop the underlying identity and access management tool for both PLIS and iEHR, using Sun Java Identity Management Suite, to ensure medical information is managed according to role-based access.

Post-implementation, CGI will manage the application, and provide software support and coordinate software upgrades. Telus will host patient laboratory information on data centres in British Columbia, and back up facilities in Alberta.

The health system, says Canham, will be scalable to “easily and fully support all citizens in British Columbia.”

But besides scalability, a key piece of the architecture is interoperability, which will facilitate data flow between applications, he says. “Users can integrate existing applications that currently exist in the health environment in British Columbia, plus new applications – and provide a single view of patient data and history.”

Canham estimates the system should be up and running within 12 to 24 months.

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