THINK puts the patient on record

A patient is rushed to Trillium Health Care Centre apparently suffering from a heart attack.

In a matter of minutes the emergency team at the Mississauga, Ont.-based hospital electronically searches and retrieves all of the person’s health care records from multiple sources — pharmacist, cardiologist and family doctor.

These assorted records (accessible on a variety of devices — laptops, PDAs, desktops) enable a physician to assess risks and administer timely treatment that saves the patient’s life.

The incident described above is not gee-wiz fiction. According to Chris Power, Trillium’s vice-president, patient services, it’s an everyday example of what the future will be like at the hospital.

The project that will make it all happen was launched early February at Trillium. Dubbed THINK — Transforming Health Care into Integrated Networks of Knowledge — the seven-year, $100 million initiative will harness products and services from eight global technology companies to connect patients and health care professionals in a continuum of care. The ultimate vision, said Trillium president and CEO Ken White, is an entirely new model of health care — with the patient at the centre.

By contrast, the prevailing health care model puts the hospital and the doctor’s office at the centre, as “those are places where medical decisions are made, records kept, tests done, and diagnoses conducted.”

Transforming Trillium’s vision into reality has called for a great deal of collaborative thought and planning. The announcement was a milestone in a process flagged off in 2002 when Trillium began its search for the right technology partners.

“We (wanted) suppliers who could work with Trillium and our community to transform health care,” said the hospital’s chief information officer Wayne Mills. “We realized no one supplier could accomplish this.”

The hospital announced an open bid process and received bids from more than 40 different consortia, Mills said.

Eight technology vendors were eventually selected and invited to participate in the THINK Alliance because of their expertise.

• IBM Cana

• Eclipsys’ clinical information system will be the cornerstone of an integrated patient health record;

• Cognos’ will deliver timely business intelligence (BI) through Web, e-mail and wireless technologies;

• Agfa will enable the shift from film to digital-based diagnostic imaging;

• IMS Maxims will provide remote illness and disease management applications;

• Sybase brings transactional and hierarchical database and transactional management systems for operational data;

• EMC will supply advanced storage technology; and,

• Courtyard will offer systems integration and interfacing support.

According to White, THINK will serve as the antidote to many challenges afflicting the healthcare sector today. “Our systems today are inefficient and time consuming. Our networks are rudimentary and not integrated.”

Trillium will raise funds for the project by reallocating internal resources, reprioritizing capital investments and reinvesting savings from efficiencies achieved in clinical and non-clinical areas.

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