B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix announced Friday he’s putting a planned Island-wide expansion of the controversial IHealth medical records program on hold.
Instead he will appoint a mediator to help Island Health and medical employees at Nanaimo Regional General Staff address issues with IHealth there before it goes any further.
“This is not a case of people having input and the health authority deciding,” he said, during a press conference on results of a review into IHealth by Ernst and Young. “The health authority will be a stakeholder in this process and it will be my expectation that people will come together and work through the issues here.”
The review, the second done by the province into IHealth, was launched last year to look into the costs, benefits and problems of the electronic record system that rolled out at NRGH in 2016.
Since IHealth began, it’s sparked concerns among members of the Nanaimo Medical Staff Association, including around patient safety and efficiency. Association vice-president Dr. Dave Coupland also previously told the News Bulletin, after the release of a report on workplace culture at NRGH last fall, that he saw the system as the straw that broke the camel’s back, taking it from a difficult environment to a toxic one in crisis and that fundamental change to the approach to leadership was needed.
The Ernst and Young review recommends IHealth continues at Nanaimo’s hospital, pointing out that reversing the IHealth system would be “significantly disruptive” and that the system is aligned with a global health care trend. But it also suggests IHealth is stabilized at NRGH before the system is implemented at other sites.
“Until NRGH is stabilized, a reasonable level of user satisfaction and acceptance has been achieved, and leadership has made meaningful progress towards addressing the cultural and governance issues, Island Healths’ resources should be focused on NRGH ratehr than new acute sites,” it says.
Island Health intends to roll out the electronic health record system to other Island hospitals, including four acute care sites in 2018 but Ernst and Young says it cannot afford to have another activation like Nanaimo.
“Given the continuing challenges and uncertainty with this existing activation, we would suggest that Island Health should attain a mroe certian level of readiness before activating new sites. At minimum, Island Health should strongly reconsider any planned “big bang” roll outs,” it said. “Future plans should be realistically phased and relfect hte lessons learned from peer Canadian organizations.”
B.C.’s Minister of Health is at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital today to provide an update on the review of Island Health’s IHealth system.
Dix announced in September a review was being done by Ernst and Young to look at IHealth’s costs, benefits, problems and what would be required to fix it.
A press release stated the Ernst and Young review made nine recommendations.
“The report found that the implementation of IHealth has been one of the most significant changes of practice for many hospital staff members and physicians. It is clear that there was deep mismanagement of the project: it was not properly planned or implemented, with some issues thought to be preventable if the health authority had leveraged advice from other Canadian experiences,” read the release.