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Going paperless a worthy goal

August 29, 2018

Christopher Schwarz, left, Clinical Services IT Project Director, and Chrystal Ference, Director Public Health Programs, helped coordinate teams for the Provincial Public and Allied Health Replacement Project which was recognized at the PMINAC Awards on June 5

Award-winning project recognized for moving AHS closer to “one patient, one record” across province

Story & photo by Vanessa Gomez

EDMONTON — An ambitious project here is successfully moving Alberta Health Services (AHS) towards “one patient, one record” — its goal of giving patients a paperless record that will follow them throughout the province, no matter which site they choose to receive their care.

Since its launch last Dec. 19, the Provincial Public and Allied Health Replacement – Edmonton Zone Project has converted more than 1.3 million patient records and 11 million immunizations records into electronic files for the Edmonton Zone. The project also increases patient safety, decreases work duplication in data entry, improves health information security and provides accurate and timely reporting.

The project — designed to replace the outdated Caseworks system for Public Health and Community Allied Health Services in the zone with the provincial Meditech system — traces its origins back four years when several groups from multiple disciplines came together to plan the best strategy.

“This is one of the first times we had so many groups coming together. Learning how to partner and work together was tough in the beginning, but once we truly learned how to work together, we worked really well,” says Christopher Schwarz, Clinical Services IT Project Director.

While effective workflow processes proved a challenge due to the complexity — some decisions and reports took additional time to complete — the team soldiered on, past the roadblocks, thanks to its talented members.

 “We were able to hone on the individual skill sets of team members. Being able to identify those was really helpful so we could get through those roadblocks,” says Chrystal Ference, Director Public Health Programs. “If I could sum up what helped us be successful, it was teamwork.”

On June 5, the excellence of the project was recognized with an award — the 2018 Information Management & Technology Project of the Year — by the Project Management Institute Northern Alberta Chapter (PMINAC).

At the presentation ceremony, the project also garnered the 2018 PMINAC Overall Project of the Year Award, a welcome surprise for the team.

“We’ve done other big projects and we always came up as the runner-up,” says Schwarz. “This is the first time, as a team, that we actually won — and it feels really good.”

The next and final phase of this provincial effort will see Calgary Zone Public & Oral Health and CDC go live later this year — which will unify all five AHS zones’ public health operations on a single Meditech system.