ID management streamlines patient-data access at BC health centre

With more than 500 locations “information integration” is key for Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), one of British Columbia’s five regional, provincial health authorities. That’s why the folks at VCH are so thrilled about the identity management (IdM) and access software they implemented last week.

The solution, from Andover, Mass.-based Sentillion Inc., enables VCH to consolidate information across its 556 locations, including acute, residential and community health care facilities.

With an annual $1.9 billion dollar budget, VCH is tasked with planning, funding, coordinating and providing virtually all public health services in the four Health Service Delivery Areas of North Shore/Coast Garibaldi, Vancouver Acute, Vancouver Community, and Richmond.

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The mandate is around improving access to patient information, said John Rutledge, regional manager, electronic health record, clinical application integration for VCH. In terms of IT architecture, he said, VCH has to reconcile several disparate systems and silos of information.

On top of that, as a large number of VCH patients use more than one facility, the need to maintain consistent health records is crucial.

IdM software vendors include Waltham, Mass.–based Novell Inc. and Islandia, N.Y.-based Computer Associates International Inc. (CA). Sentillion plays primarily in the healthcare space, according to Paul Roscoe the company’s senior vice-president, field operations.

After a careful review of various vendor offerings, VCH opted for Sentillion software. Specifically, the health authority has deployed Sentillion’s Vergence product suite to manage information access across multiple applications. The software is really the “glue around these applications,” Rutledge said.

The implementation is in line with an overarching VCH mandate to improve its electronic health records system and also to ensure that VCH is compliant with B.C.’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act that aims to safeguard all patient information.

“The electronic health records strategy is really around creating a thin portal type environment and then [providing] links into all the other sources of information we need,” Rutledge said. Vergence, he said, enables authorized clinical users to securely access patient information from any VCH facility, no matter where the information is located. The secure technology also includes single sign-on, user provisioning and privacy auditing.

According to Rutledge, role-based access is a key aspect of the system. It enables users to access only those applications they have permission to use based upon their roles in that facility.

In looking at electronic patient records Rutledge noted the software “allows [users] to dive back down into the deep operational systems where the contextual data is located, while supporting clinical workflow….A user doesn’t need to log in again,” Rutledge said. “We’re working on the security access model, doing the portal and integration development, all the work that comes along with a complex project.”

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