A longtime family physician in Edmonton is raising concerns with the transition to Connect Care.
Dr. Edward Papp said his family medicine practice hasn’t received lab results since Sunday’s launch of the Alberta Health Services’ new electronic system.
“We typically get our labs transmitted electronically — that’s first thing in the day. They get attached to the patient’s file,” he said.
“As a physician, I can look at all the labs that came in for the day. I can see which were abnormal and which were normal… so I can concentrate on those ones that were abnormal, go to the patient’s file and see what’s happening. Do I need more information? What kind of action needs to be taken?
“We weren’t getting them. Then, when the paper was supposed to come in, it didn’t come.”
He said he and his staff would usually receive between 200 and 250 lab results a day.
Connect Care will eventually be implemented across the province at any site that offers Alberta Health Services. The first wave launched at several Edmonton sites and labs on Sunday morning.
“There would have been a lot of patients going for lab testing Saturday or Sunday,” Papp said. “Because of Connect Care, those results would have had to go into the Connect Care system. We were also told by the labs that Connect Care took over their printers.”
Long waits were reported at some DynaLIFE labs on Monday as the new system was rolled out. There were issues with processing samples, but AHS said Monday the issue had been resolved.
However, Papp has heard differently. His office manager contacted AHS and the lab for answers.
“So that’s where the dilemma is and that just isn’t fair to people,” Papp said.
Papp said the lab told him it has fielded hundreds of similar calls – as has Microquest, the electronic medical records company Papp’s clinic uses.
“We don’t have a clue of the scope of this,” he added. “Does that mean that we send someone for an X-ray, that they had it? Or they had a mammogram done and there’s cancer there? So unless we get a call from the radiologist or there’s a worrisome thing there and they have to order another test, what do we do?”
In a statement to Global News, AHS said DynaLIFE has assigned general pathologists to review all laboratory results since Connect Care launched to ensure all critical lab results have been addressed. Those critical results will be flagged directly with continuing care facilities and physicians.
AHS added: “The majority of lab results are being delivered to physicians and patients in a timely manner. In fact, Connect Care improves access to lab results for both physicians and their patients.
“Yesterday, AHS identified interruptions to the delivery of some lab results stemming from the Connect Care implementation. There has been no impact on patient care. The interruptions were caused by the transition to new Connect Care identification numbers of physicians and patient/client locations.
“We anticipated this issue, and both AHS and DynaLIFE teams have provided information to stakeholders regarding the processes in place to improve the information provided on lab requisitions, to ensure the results can be provided in a timely manner to the community and continuing care providers.
“All laboratory results are available for providers to access in the Alberta NetCare system.
“We are confident this interruption has been remedied.”
But Papp disputes the claim patient care isn’t being affected.
“If you came in and saw me and you had your test done and you had leukemia, I think it would be nice to get that treatment underway right away, and any other investigation, and all that needs to be done. But if we don’t know that’s what it is, we’re dead in the water,” he said.
When he reached out, expressing his concerns, Papp was told there were a number of issues with lab results delivery that are being identified and “fixed rapidly.”
“Three days, for me, isn’t rapid… And incidentally, we don’t know if other doctors are affected in other parts of the province,” Papp said.
He believes the goal of Connect Care is wonderful: trying to centralize access to medical information instead of health-care workers in different parts of the province — and in different areas of health care — using different systems. However, he doesn’t feel stakeholders in all fields and practices were consulted or that appropriate contingencies were put in place.
“It would be a nightmare for a physician to go in and they see an abnormal result,” Papp said. “You can’t go through their chart, so you have to either go through their number or their name. It just adds so much time.
“It’s a nightmare.”
*EDITOR’S NOTE: In a quotation, Dr. Papp referenced his business manager calling “Dynacare” labs about the delay in getting results, however, DynaLIFE is the lab involved. Dynacare does operate a laboratory in Edmonton but not collection centres.