Benefits of eHealth

B.C.'s Health System Needs eHealth

We need eHealth to face a number of significant challenges. The pressures on our health system are intense, and will only increase in the future.

Demographics

There is a growing prevalence in our population of chronic diseases such as diabetes.

Our population is growing – by just under 50,000 persons per year – and is expected to reach almost 4.5 million by 2010. Between 2005 and 2015 our over 65 population will grow by 24.4 per cent, from 13.9 per cent to 17.3 per cent. The median age in British Columbia is expected to reach 42 years by 2015 from 39.6 years in 2005.

Life expectancy is increasing; in 2005, the median age at death was 79 years and by 2015, it is expected to be more than 81 years. At the same time, our health care workforce is aging. Maintaining an adequate supply and mix of health professionals and workers will be an ongoing challenge.

Expectations

Our hospitals and health professionals face a continuous need to update or expand health facilities, technology and equipment; and new diseases (such as SARS), tests, drugs and treatments continue to emerge. An 80 year old today is twice as likely to have a knee replacement, coronary bypass, or cataract surgery as 15 years ago, and eight times as likely to have an angioplasty procedure.

Costs

All these factors create greater demands on and costs to our health system. Moving health information online will reduce delays, errors, test duplication and financial and environmental costs associated with the physical transportation of records. eHealth will enable “green” efficiencies that will help sustain B.C.’s health system into the future.

eHealth will provide:

  • secure and authorized access to health records from anywhere in the province
  • physicians better access to patient records
  • consolidated lab results - your tests online for your caregiver when you need them
  • enhanced PharmaNet improved patient safety
  • X-rays, CT scans and MRIs online for your caregiver
  • health services over distance - TeleHealth, in rural and remote areas and for First Nations
  • improved public health service delivery to the public

Benefits for the Public

eHealth will give your health professional faster, secure access to all the information they need to treat you. Over time, every British Columbian will have a personal electronic health record which will be a secure and private lifetime record of their key health history and care within the health system. The record will be available electronically to authorized health professionals to support high-quality care.

Transition

Currently, personal health information is held in a number of places. Doctors, pharmacists, and opticians for example – all have some records relating to their patients encounters with the health care system. Those records will not be moved into the new electronic health record databases. They will continue to be held and protected by those persons authorized to use them. Personal health information is already protected by legislation: the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and the Personal Information Protection Act.

The EHR system is not yet live in B.C. It will go live one step at a time through each health authority, starting in 2009, in a gradual phased implementation. As individuals have encounters with the health system – see a doctor, get an immunization etc – records of that encounter can be stored in their own personal electronic health record. As that happens patient information can be moved securely and quickly to authorized health professionals and;

  • Enable faster, safer, better health care by placing medical information in the right hands at the right time.
  • Improve patient safety – a complete overview of clinical and medication history helps to avoid potential errors and complications.
  • Provide better access to specialist care in all geographic areas of the province through the increased use of technology and information systems, such as telehealth.
  • Reduce travel time allowing care closer to home.

Privacy

Medical records in the EHR will be protected by tough security new provincial privacy legislation developed specifically to govern health information electronic databases. (The e health Personal Health Information Access and Protection of Privacy Act). All patient information will be protected by privacy measures that are among the strongest in Canada. The new eHealth Act refers specifically to the new databases called Health Information Banks that will hold your personal information. The new Act creates a specific legislative framework governing access and privacy for electronic health information databases.

Access to the EHR will be limited according to role-based access which limits what a user can do or view on the EHR. For example, physicians, nurses and administrators will have different levels of access according to what information they need to do their job. Comprehensive privacy policy will be in place to protect personal health information.

Benefits for Health Professionals

With eHealth health professionals will have the correct and necessary information required to make appropriate and timely clinical decisions regarding patient care.

Physicians

For Physicians eHealth will help in:

  • Making appointments and storing patient information;
  • Reviewing, highlighting and adding information to patient charts;
  • Writing and sending referrals;
  • Communicating with laboratories and other medical professionals/specialists;
  • Receiving patients' lab test results;
  • Receiving reports from other medical professionals/specialists;
  • Monitoring and managing treatment

Laboratory Professionals

For Laboratory Professionals eHealth means:

  • Reductions in duplicate/repeat testing (cost effective);
  • Better utilization analysis (discrete analyzable data);
  • Integration with financial data
  • Better use of limited regional resources in pursuing a single, common lab strategy than each region pursuing its own;
  • Reduced search time for results;
  • Better use of physicians time through reduced number of required patient visits;
  • Reduced need to handle paper; reduced lab costs;
  • Improved quality and utilization of laboratory services;
  • Improved planning and management decision-making with comprehensive lab information.

Pharmacists

For Pharmacists eHealth means:

  • Improved hospital pharmacy and community pharmacy information through integrated access to medication information regardless of where medications are dispensed;
  • Reduced physician callbacks to pharmacists due to lack of medication profile information at point of prescribing;
  • Eventually eliminating pharmacist call backs to physicians to resolve handwriting issues;
  • Reduced pharmacist call backs to physicians to resolve patient financial coverage issues;
  • Reduced health professional and patient time to process special authority requests;
  • The capacity to identify and addressing potential medication issues at the point of prescribing rather than the point of dispensing.

Radiologists

With eHealth radiologists can:

  • Enable more effective and efficient care delivery by connecting physicians with each other and with radiologists through seamless access to diagnostic imaging results;
  • Reduce treatment delays through improved access to patient information;
  • Assist Radiologists to make more informed diagnosis by providing access to complete health information and history, irrespective of where the images were acquired and the report transcribed;
  • Connect Radiologists within diagnostic imaging departments so that all facilities within B.C. have access to radiologist expertise and radiologists can engage in tele-radiology.

Benefits for Government

British Columbia is a leader in developing eHealth capabilities in Canada.

We are working with health authorities, health professionals and Canada Health Infoway to accelerate the development of electronic health information systems.

The Ministry of Health, Health Authorities, Regional Health Districts and all public bodies governing health in B.C. will all benefit from eHealth through:

  • faster delivered, reliable, accurate and consistent information.
  • increased efficiency and reform through better information availability.
  • health services planned, managed and delivered in concert with patient needs.
  • savings through duplication elimination and health care directed at patient needs.
  • sustainable health care delivery by extending specialist services and skills.