Group Health Centre Transitions To New Electronic Medical Record System
Starting April 25th, 2022, Group Health Centre (GHC) is moving to a new version of its Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system, EPIC. This upgrade will see GHC move from the 2014 version of EPIC it is currently using to the most recent version EPIC 2021.
Over the next few weeks, while GHC staff become accustomed to the new system, it is anticipated that some processes could take longer than usual. During this transition period, GHC would like to thank their patients for their understanding and cooperation.
As part of the upgrade, GHC will become a member of the Atlas Alliance network. The Atlas Alliance is a group of other health service providers that also use EPIC as their EMR system. This shared hospital information system (HIS) is hosted through The Ottawa Hospital (TOH).
“Using a shared service model like the one offered through Atlas Alliance presented GHC with a tremendous opportunity to modernize our EMR system, while at the same time, finding cost-effective efficiencies,” says GHC’s Vice-President of Finance, Tony Barone.
As part of this shared health information system, each health partner will have secure real-time access to patient medical information, allowing healthcare providers to make timely, informed decisions based on the most comprehensive and connected information.
“While we explored all available possibilities for a shared hospital information system. The closest option that offered the EPIC EMR was the Atlas Alliance,” Barone said. “This requirement was important because if GHC had joined a system that wasn’t using EPIC, it would have required a considerable investment of additional time and resources to transition our health records to a different system.”
The Atlas Alliance consists of health care organizations from across Eastern Ontario, including The Ottawa Hospital, The University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Hawkesbury & District General Hospital, St. Francis Memorial Hospital, and Renfrew Victoria Hospital.
“As Sault Area Hospital is not a member of the Atlas Alliance, it’s understandable that some people may be curious how our local hospital will access GHC’s patient information,” Barone said. “As part of the upgrade to EPIC 2021, we will be using an application called EPIC Care Link; which allows for the instant sharing of patient information regardless of what EMR system is being used”.
With this new upgrade, GHC is also taking steps to bring its registration process more in line with other Health Care Facilities in Ontario. Starting April 25th, GHC will require patients to present their valid health card at each visit. Like all other health care services in Ontario, GHC needs a valid health card to collect payment for its services from the Ministry of Health. Before this change, if a patient forgot to bring their health card or the number had expired, GHC would have to spend additional time and resources getting in contact with the patient to get a valid health insurance number.
More information will be provided on this transition in the weeks to come.