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New electronic health system Connect Care launches ‘well’ but with ‘anticipated glitches’: AHS

WATCH ABOVE: Alberta Health Services launched the first wave of its new electronic health system Connect Care on Sunday. There were some technical issues and delays, but nothing unexpected, AHS said.

There were some technical glitches and expected delays at several Edmonton health facilities Sunday as Connect Care launched, but overall, officials say the first wave went well.

“You don’t plan this type of system transformation without planning for a bumpy road,” said Dr. David Zygun, the Edmonton Zone medical director for Alberta Health Services. “And certainly, we’ve seen those bumps as expected.

“[We have] several layers to ensure that we can first identify those issues in a quick way, triage them so that the most critical ones that could affect patients are addressed first, and then the teams are in place.”

Connect Care will modernize and centralize the health system. It replaces all paper charting, medication records, lab requisitions and results, and patient medical histories. It will allow health-care providers a central access point to patient information, common clinical standards and best health-care practices.

“This is the first step to really bringing people together on one system from birth to grave, which all your providers and you as a patient can access — so people can’t fall through the cracks,” Zygun said. “Yes, it will be challenging but we know the end result is right for patients.

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“The current system is unacceptable, we truly believe that. This is Alberta moving towards that future. So with all the challenges, we have to remember the why.”

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Work on the new electronic system and its integration started in 2016.

Connect Care will eventually be used across all Alberta Health Services facilities and will be introduced in waves — the last one coming in fall 2022.

READ MORE: Alberta nurses have ‘grave concerns’ with rollout of Connect Care system planned for Sunday

The first round began early Sunday morning at several Edmonton facilities, including the University of Alberta Hospital, Stollery Children’s Hospital, Kaye Edmonton Clinic, Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute, and Addictions and Mental Health Bed Management.

Those sites involved in the first wave had additional staff and a number of superusers on hand to help employees adjust to the new system.

Zygun said, overall, the transition went well but it wasn’t without some challenges and stress.

“The major issues that we have identified are things that you would predict: log-in difficulties, the right printer not working exactly as we had programmed it and tested it. Some of those things are very easy to correct quickly.

“We are working on some of the workflow issues.

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“How we thought things were done and how we planned to do them — when the patients come in and they’re being tested, you realize that maybe some alterations need to be made in real time and we’re able to do that, which has been really reassuring so that none of these things affect patient care.”

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Nurses very concerned about Connect Care system launching in Edmonton
Nurses very concerned about Connect Care system launching in Edmonton

He also said some staff were frustrated with how long certain things took using the new system.

“When you usually do things a little quicker, to learn it, you’re going to take a step back. What we know from implementation is providers will get better at that as we learn the system.”

READ MORE: AHS blamed for breach that saw thousands of patient files improperly accessed

The first round also included several ambulatory clinics, Alberta precision labs, diagnostic labs and Dynalife.

On Monday, there were two-hour delays reported at some Dynalife labs due to a technical issue with the new system.

“There have been some delays as the lab infrastructure being able to process the samples at the rate that we were before,” Zygun said. “We identified those, that particular issue has been corrected, but those are issues that we expect.”

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A message on Dynalife’s website warned patients: “On Nov. 3, 2019, DynaLIFE migrated to AHS’ new clinical information system Connect Care. For the next few weeks, we will be spending more time than normal to serve patients. As a result, your lab visit may take longer and you may experience a longer wait. Our staff are working diligently with this new system and thank you for your patience.”

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Zygun said current systems like Net Care will continue to be accessible as other centres transfer over to Connect Care.

If you are an Alberta health-care worker who would like to share your experience with the Connect Care migration, please email emily.mertz@globalnews.ca

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