Friday marked Day 6 since the first wave of the Connect Care rollout and some family doctors said they still hadn’t received any lab results.
Alberta Health Services’ new electronic system is being implemented in phases over a number of years. Several Edmonton hospitals and DynaLIFE labs were the first to launch on Sunday morning.
Connect Care is a huge project — a new centralized, streamlined digital system for charting and tracking patient care. Many recognize its potential but there’s definitely been growing pains.
There were issues at DynaLIFE labs.
“As expected, we saw some delays as we get used to the new system,” Dr. David Zygun, Edmonton Zone director with AHS, said Friday. “I think what we’ve seen is that improve dramatically day by day, which has been one of the reassuring things — the structure that we have in behind is identifying these issues and correcting them quickly.”
There have also been delays in getting patients’ lab results to their doctors. Several family physicians contacted Global News to say they hadn’t received lab results since Connect Care launched — either through the new electronic system or through Netcare, the older system that was supposed to be used as a backup.
AHS said Friday the results were there; they just hadn’t been sent to the right location.
“We have identified the issue and AHS is taking this very seriously. We have identified that some providers are seeing delays in delivery of their results,” Zygun said.
“All results, all tests that are being run are fed into the Connect Care system. The area that’s causing the issue is what’s called e-delivery — that delivery system to our community providers — affecting a portion of results.
“They are actively being distributed as we speak,” he said. “Some of the providers are still on fax so those need to be sent out. Some are on the e-delivery so those are being sent out as well.
“None of the data is lost, none of the lab tests will not be transmitted. But we just have to make sure we send it to the right location.”
Any critical results for all types of lab tests will be communicated directly to the doctor, Zygun said.
AHS also sent a memo out Friday to community physicians, outlining the delays, the e-delivery issue and support suggestions. The notice also includes phone numbers physicians can call if they’re still not seeing lab results.
“So, as the new reqs come out and these communications are received by the community providers and their electronic health record providers, we will see improvement with this. And we’ve already seen improvement,” Zygun said.
He stressed AHS has confirmed all results are also available via Netcare. But doctors who contacted Global News said finding patients’ results on Netcare is cumbersome and that even determining what and who to search for is challenging.
“Netcare was really good,” said Dr. Ed Papp, who’s been a family doctor in Edmonton for 47 years. “Connect Care is taking that. I understand there’s burps there, but if you don’t know which patient to look for, how in the world are you going to ever get them? Can you depend on the patient now to phone and ask: ‘What was my result?'”
“If physicians still have those concerns, we’ve sent out communication to all community providers, in concert with our partners in AMA (Alberta Medical Association), such that those physicians who feel they may not be able to access results that they should be, are to notify us immediately,” Zygun said.
Nurses say there’s been issues with workflow and communication between in-patient and ambulatory services. The United Nurses of Alberta said Friday those problems still exist. There’s been a few times where nurses have had to stop using the new system and revert to paper charting in order to prioritize patient safety and care.
AHS has staffed the first phase sites — including the University of Alberta Hospital, Stollery Children’s Hospital and Mazankowski Heart Institute — with a team of super users and tech support to help navigate the transition to the new system. But that hands-on support is something community doctors haven’t received.
“You have to involve the stakeholders and you can’t just say to one of them: ‘Do you think this work for you? Is this shoe going to fit?’ They had no contingency,” Papp said.
“The hospitals were really important, and the emergencies, yes, but we are dealing with such a volume of people who are sick and don’t have access to the system and we need to help them along, and if we can’t get the information, how in the world are we going to help them?”