NWT implements interoperable Electronic Health Record

January 22, 2010 (Yellowknife, NWT) – Residents of the Northwest Territories and the health professionals who care for them will soon benefit from electronic access to medical information such as lab results as the territory rolls out the first release of the interoperable Electronic Health Record project, Minister of Health and Social Services Sandy Lee announced today.

Release 1 of the interoperable Electronic Health Record (iEHR), the HealthNet Viewer, is in the process of rolling out to initial authorized groups of healthcare professionals at clinics and health centres across the NWT. By March, most of the territory’s health professionals will have instant access to the medical information of their patients such as lab results, discharge summaries and diagnostic imaging reports. Quick access to this information enables more efficient access to care, more informed care decisions and results in better patient care.

“Northwest Territories residents can be proud of this accomplishment, which is a result of hard work, collaboration and investment in electronic health record systems,” said Minister Lee. “These efforts will continue to make our health information more readily accessible when clinicians need it most.”

The Electronic Health Record is a secure and private lifetime record of a person’s health history and care within the health system. Every province and territory in Canada is working to implement electronic health record systems that will transform the way health care is delivered to Canadians.

The NWT HealthNet Viewer is a web-based portal that will allow authorized health clinicians “view only” access to a client’s key medical information anywhere, and at any time to support enhanced patient safety and delivery of care. For example, lab results will be available in the Viewer once the results are known, significantly reducing the amount of time it takes for clinicians to receive the paper based results - in some cases by a number of weeks.

Canada Health Infoway, the independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government that invests with public sector partners across Canada to implement and reuse compatible health information systems invested $5.7 million in the project.

“Electronic access to health information such as lab results is key to reducing wait times, patient safety and better access to care,” said Richard Alvarez, President and CEO, Canada Health Infoway. “I applaud the work of the government of the Northwest Territories for not only reaching this milestone, but for the collaboration with Alberta, replicating their successes to deliver an efficient and robust system for the Northwest Territories.”

The HealthNet Viewer will initially contain text reports from Stanton Hospital (including consultations, discharge summaries, operative procedures, and delivery summaries) and laboratory results from Stanton, Hay River and Inuvik laboratories as well as those referred by NWT to DynaLife Laboratory in Alberta.

Records and paper files where they exist today will continue to be maintained as before; however, the HealthNet Viewer provides the opportunity for clinicians to view information which already exists in different electronic systems across the Territories in a consolidated format.

A broad rollout to all healthcare providers across the NWT will follow shortly. This first Release is the building block that will allow for additional information to be included in subsequent releases. Work on Release 2 of the HealthNet Viewer is beginning; it will feature additional functions and further expand the information available to clinicians.

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For more information:

Damien Healy
Manager, Communications 
Health and Social Services
Tel: (867) 920-8927

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