Users of Care Anywhere – a mobile community care system in British Columbia (BC) – apparently can’t get enough of it.
It has been just over six months since BC’s Interior Health Authority (IHA) completed a two-year rollout of the system. And, according to the IHA, after a challenging transition period, users are clamouring for more functionality.
Encompassing a large area of urban and rural communities in the interior of BC, the IHA decided, in 2002, to provide its community nurses and case managers with a mobile tool to help them do clinical assessments in clients’ homes. Working mainly with seniors, they visit people in their homes to assess their medical needs.
Norma Malanowich, who oversaw the project for the IHA, said with more than 10,000 clients receiving some kind of home services Interior Health wanted to automate the process to make it easier for staff.
When they reviewed the problem in 2002, she said, there wasn’t a lot out there. “It was a really early market for this kind of technology.”
The options were narrowed down to Care Anywhere from Waterloo, Ont.-based Campana Systems Inc. and an offering from Mobile Solutions of Winnipeg.
Malanowich said the IHA was using Campana products in other areas, and familiarity with the company played a role in their selection. “I think the key was the flexibility built into the product so we could tailor and design [it] to meet the clinical workflow and documentation needs of our case managers.”
She said the technology also interfaces well with IHA’s existing infrastructure, including Meditech, the electronic health record system.
Malanowich explained how it all works.
Before case managers head out on the road they download files of clients they’re going to be seeing that day on to their laptop. Those files are flagged on the database, so they can be viewed but not edited, until the end of the day, when the manager checks them back in with changes they made after visiting the client.
It’s a natural fit for a wireless system, but Malanowich said the region’s geography necessitated the checkout system. “Many areas don’t even have cellular service.”
The implementation was phased in by region over two years, to give staff a chance to get trained and ensure enough support staff were on hand to help them through the adjustment period. Technology-wise it went smoothly; Malanowich said the biggest challenge was change management. Staff had to move from paper to a laptop, learn the new software and master a new clinical assessment process, all at the same time.
“With any change it takes a while for frontline users to get used to the system, but I think they really see the value in what it can offer them, and they want even more functionalities now,” said Malanowich.
She said more than 300 people use the system regularly, and they’re now asking that the paper chart be eliminated by automating the care planning part of the process.
Allan Curtis, Campana ‘s regional manager for Western Canada, said IHA was essentially a beta customer for Care Anywhere. He said lessons learned from this rollout have been used to improve the software.
“We’re moving more and more to an alternative user interface that is more Web based, using Web objects within our client software, which will give people a much easier view and access to the database and the system,” said Curtis.
And while wireless access isn’t possible for geography reasons for the IHA, Curtis said Care Anywhere could support it. He said the Fraser Health Authority (FHA) in BC’s Lower Mainland is currently implementing Care Anywhere, building on the lessons learned with the IHA.
While they’ve decided current wireless networks don’t offer a sufficient level of service, going wireless is the FHA’s long-term plan.