November 1, 2019
On November 3, Alberta Health Services will launch Connect Care.
This will be a significant change for patients, physicians and frontline staff, and to the way AHS provides healthcare.
At Connect Care’s core is a new common clinical information system. It will house all AHS medical records, prescriptions and care history at AHS facilities, right down to AHS doctor’s notes.
It is a move away from an out-of-date system that in many instances continues to rely on paper records and notes, to a sophisticated, comprehensive system that allows patients to interact with their own healthcare information, and helps clinicians see all patient information in one place.
It is safer for patients, will lead to improved patient care, and will help our frontline teams do what they do best – provide effective, expert and timely care to Albertans.
The launch of Wave 1 is the culmination of more than two years of planning and work, and is the result of listening to our frontlines, who have long called for improvement to our patient information systems.
It follows extensive training provided to everyone who will use Connect Care. Physicians, nurses and other frontline staff have been instrumental in building the system and planning for the launch.
More than 19,000 users – including more than 3,000 physicians - have undergone extensive training for several months, including onsite training in our hospitals and clinics, training in classrooms, and extensive online learning.
All users have experience using the system, and ongoing supports and resources are available and ready to help them with this transition.
In addition, a 24/7 command centre has been activated to respond in real-time to any concerns, issues or questions that may arise. Groups of “super-users”, including physicians and nurses, will be on-hand on the units to support our teams.
And, “SWAT” teams comprising of skilled clinicians will be available 24/7 to respond, problem solve and support frontline users.
The launch will be deliberate and cautious. There will be nine implementation waves in total, happening between late 2019 and late 2022.
Wave One includes AHS sites and programs primarily in the Edmonton Zone, at the Walter C Mackenzie (WCM) Campus, the East Edmonton Health Centre, Pharmacy and Diagnostic Imaging sites in the Edmonton Zone, Alberta Precision Labs sites in Edmonton and the North Zone, DynaLIFE sites across Alberta and labs at the Cross Cancer Institute, and hundreds of ambulatory clinics in the Edmonton Zone.
The reason for this staggered launch is to ensure we do it right. We know there will be challenges along the way – that’s inevitable with such a project – and we are anticipating some issues as this is rolled out.
The wave approach means we can fix issues as they appear, allowing us to learn and adapt the system before we roll it out in other areas.
Connect Care will help us ensure high-quality care is being delivered in the same way no matter where you are in Alberta. It will let us record and share our patients’ health information with them and their healthcare teams.
The whole healthcare team, including patients, will have the best possible information throughout their care journey.
Before Connect Care, AHS had more than 1,300 independent health information systems in place across the province. Some of those systems still relied on paper records – in many places physicians are forced to use handwritten notes.
And, many of the previous systems don’t always talk to each other and that means patient information is often fragmented. Healthcare providers – and patients – may not have a complete picture of a patient’s health history when they need it.
Connect Care will provide easy – but secure – access to that information, which will be available, from facility to facility, and service to service. It’s better for healthcare providers and it’s better for patients.
The cost to implement Connect Care will be approximately $1.39 billion over the five-year design, build and implementation period. However, maintaining and upgrading existing systems and technology over the next decade would cost more than implementing the integrated system for Connect Care.
The Alberta Government has committed $400 million to support Connect Care. The remainder of the cost is being funded internally, through existing AHS operations and contributions from AHS operating areas.