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St. Michael’s achieves nation-wide first in reaching major electronic patient record milestone

Toronto, April 19, 2011

Picture of clinician using a barcode reader on a patient's wristband Barcode technology ensures that patients receive the right drugs, in the proper dosage at the correct time.

Enabling our physicians to electronically enter orders rather than handwrite them and nurses to scan bar-coded patient identification bands before giving medications are just two of the clinical technologies that recently earned St. Michael’s the distinction of being the first academic teaching hospital in Canada to reach Stage 6 in the adoption of electronic patient records.

The Stage 6 validation is part of the zero-to-seven-step EMR (electronic medical record) Adoption Model developed by HIMSS Analytics, a not-for-profit subsidiary of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

The benchmarking model tracks and scores the progress of hospitals around the world as they implement electronic patient records.

The Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) partnered with HIMSS Analytics in 2009 to bring the model to Canada.

“Reaching this milestone is a reflection of all the work we’ve been doing at St. Michael’s since launching our strategic e-health plan in 2001,” says Anne Trafford, vice-president, information management and chief information officer.

“This is all about quality and patient safety. Our healthcare teams are seeing the daily benefit of how electronic ordering and documentation give them online access to information based on current medical literature and real-time patient data, when they need it, from where they need it, 24/7.”

Meeting Stage 6 criteria includes having computerized practitioner order entry (CPOE) with built-in decision supports that alert physicians to patient allergies or harmful drug interactions. The application must be part of a closed loop medication system, which at SMH is the bar-coded medication administration check (MAK) that nurses use to verify the right patient is receiving the right drug in the right dose at the right time.

St. Michael’s physicians have placed more than 185,000 orders online since the unit-by-unit rollout of CPOE and MAK began last spring to 12 in-scope medical-surgical in-patient units.

Hematology/oncology and HIV services on 2 Queen are the most recent areas to go electronic. Four remaining units – 9CC, 9CS, 4 Bond and 4 Queen -- will be live by June.

“This is an outstanding achievement, from the work of our information management team to the seamless adoption of new technology practices by our healthcare professionals,” says CEO Bob Howard. “This initiative is creating and delivering the tools and resources, that, in our clinicians’ hands, are continually advancing patient safety and quality of care at St. Michael’s.”

According to Trafford, achieving Stage 7 – a totally paperless patient record environment including emergency department and ambulatory programs – could take a minimum of two to three years.

“The OHA congratulates St. Michael’s for leading the way in the adoption of health information technologies by achieving Stage 6 of the HIMSS Analytics EMR Adoption Model,” says Tom Clossen, president and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association. “It’s a great achievement that demonstrates the strategic value of improving patient care with an electronic patient record – enabling improved quality, efficiency and access to care.”