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Health Informatics

Health Informatics InstituteThere is significant momentum and commitment in Sault Ste. Marie to capitalize on its strength and demonstrated innovations to build a world-class Health Informatics Cluster. The notion of a Health Informatics Cluster for Sault Ste. Marie is based on its proven track record and leadership in a number of emerging areas of health technology.

 

For more information please contact:

Dr. Nicola Shaw, ESRI Canada Health Informatics Research Chair and Scientific Director, Health Informatics Institute at nicola.shaw@healthinformaticsinstitute.ca

Vision

Sault Ste. Marie will capitalize on its nationally recognized strengths to establish a vibrant, world-class health informatics cluster that includes private and public sector organizations leading in the application of information technology to health data, services and research.

In order to establish a critical mass that will allow this Health Informatics Cluster to grow and develop initial projects must be seeded. The Sault Ste. Marie Health Informatics Cluster will provide a number of important benefits to the community, and also the health system as a whole, through the development and implementation of best practices and advanced technology to better serve patients.

The health informatics field presents immediate and promising returns for the community. This is one of the main priorities among niche opportunities and SSMIC has coordinated the formation of a Health Informatics Cluster Committee to identify and prioritize activities that will drive IT growth and economic development.

The Committee has worked diligently and collaboratively to establish a vision for health informatics in Sault Ste. Marie, identify projects of strong potential, partner to submit funding applications developed and continually examine opportunities for the health informatics sector in Sault Ste. Marie.

SSMIC recently hired a highly qualified Health Informatics Development Manager who will enable the organization to provide a dedicated resource to focus on this promising sector.

In addition, SSMIC has been in discussions with the Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research and is furthering a collaborative relationship with this organization. With support from FedNor, Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), ESRI Canada and Algoma University in 2009, an Industrial Research Chair in Health Informatics and Health Informatics Research Institute will be established in Sault Ste. Marie to build on the research and potential that exists in the community.

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Health Informatics Cluster Committee

The Health Informatics Cluster Committee was formed in 2006 and established a vision that Sault Ste. Marie would capitalize on its nationally recognized strengths to establish a vibrant, world-class health informatics cluster that includes private and public sector organizations leading in the application of information technology to health data, services and research. Committee members include senior representatives from the following organizations:

  •  Algoma Public Health
  •  Sault Ste. Marie and District Group Health Association
  •  Algoma District Medical Group
  •  Sault Area Hospital
  •  Algoma University
  •  Sault College of Applied Arts and Technology (Health Program)
  •  Northern Ontario School of Medicine
  •   Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre

 Since formation, the committee has identified a number of projects in the Health Informatics sector, one of which was to establish a Health Informatics Research Chair and Health Informatics Research Institute (providing governance, management and promotion) for conducting research based on the community’s strengths in health informatics.

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Unique Community Strengths in Health Informatics

Sault Ste. Marie has an impressive track record for innovation in the healthcare field and possesses some unique characteristics that no other community in Canada can claim:

GIS in Health and Human Services

  •  Methods for Combating West Nile Virus
  •  Methods for Tracking Infectious Disease Outbreaks
  •  Methods for Syndromic Surveillance
  •  GIS Awards and Achievements


Primary Care Informatics- Group Health Centre

  • Electronic Medical Records (established over 10 years ago)
  • Online Patient Portal- My Health Matters (some of Canada’s first patients to have secure access to their Heath records on-line)
  • Canada Health Infoway Nationally Sponsored: EMRxtra Program (Canada’s First System Linking Pharmacists to Electronic Medical Record Information)
  • Ontario's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and eHealth (Ontario)'s ePrescribing Demonstration Project
  • Healthcare Communications and Technology Centre
  • Health Informatics National Recognition and Award Winners

Health Informatics- Sault Area Hospital (SAH)

  • Meditech
  • Wait time Information System
  •  New Hospital with Advanced IT Infrastructure

Local Health Area Network (LHIN) and Local Health IT Collaboration

  • Health Informatics Cluster Committee
  • ONe-Health Steering Committee
  • Pan-Northern Ontario PACS Project (PNOPP)

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For more information on each of the above achievements please read below.

GIS in Health and Human Services

Methods for Combating West Nile Virus
In working with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), Algoma Public Health and the city’s Public Works, the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre Community Geomatics Centre (CGC) identified potential risks for breeding of West Nile Virus throughout the community. Sharing GIS data, tools and resources between organizations enabled a quick, efficient and coordinated response to address a serious health risk in the community. This approach of combining health and social-related data with municipal and utilities data brought about improvements in services from all sides. These services can now be optimally delivered to areas where they are most needed.

Methods for Tracking Infectious Diseases Outbreaks
Based on its reputation, the CGC is now conducting work across Ontario with private sector, public sector and academic partners. One of the projects conducted with Algoma Public Health and the Sault Area Hospital utilized GIS to better understand an outbreak of c. difficile in a local hospital. This groundbreaking project has led to numerous collaborations including a partnership with the Toronto-based firm Infonaut to develop a commercial solution.

Methods for Syndromic Surveillance
Queen’s University researchers at Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health have also recently completed a project with the SSMIC CGC. The purpose of the project was to enable viewing of staff Respiratory and Gastrointestinal-related Occupational Health visits for each floor and department of Kingston General Hospital (KGH). The information was presented to KFL&A Public Health through predetermined symbology and classification by floor and department in 2D and 3D formats. The information outputted is intended to provide enhanced early warning for communicable disease outbreaks which may help to characterize the occurrence and transmission of infectious diseases within the hospital and allow for implementation of appropriate infection control measures. Consequently, this information is intended to be used to mitigate the spread of disease within the hospital and minimize the risk to health care workers thereby reducing health care worker absenteeism.

GIS Awards and Achievements
In 2007, the CGC received a major international Special Achievement Award (SAG) for GIS work in health and human services. The SAG is one of the highest awards in the world for GIS whose past winners in the international category have included the United Nations, New Zealand Ministry of Health and the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD). The awards were presented at a special ceremony on Wednesday June 20th at the San Diego Convention Centre at the largest conference in the world devoted to GIS and attended by close to 16,000 people from more than 120 countries.

The CGC has also put Sault Ste. Marie on the map with international coverage of its unique community model. Coverage in major GIS publications such as ESRI Healthy GIS, ArcNews North, URISA , the Ontario Technologist, Decima’s Telemanagement and Canadian Health Care Technology demonstrate the world-class nature of the solution operated in SSM.

Owing to its unique position within the Innovation Centre, the CGC is able to provide a number of benefits to the community. A “GIS in Health Day” is held in SSM annually which attracts visitors from across the province to hear expert speakers in the emerging field of utilizing GIS within a health and social services context.
SSMIC has been working with private sector companies to conduct technology transfer and build capacity. Recently, a number of RFP’s and opportunities have been pursued by partnerships consisting of private sector GIS firms and SSMIC.

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Primary Care Informatics - Group Health Centre

As Ontario's largest and longest established alternatively funded healthcare organization, Group Health Centre (GHC) serves over 62,000 Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma District residents. The Group Health Centre is comprised of a partnership between the Sault Ste. Marie and District Group Health Association and the Algoma District Medical Group.

i) Electronic Medical Records:
The GHC is touted as the most technologically advanced health service organization in Canada and operates using a comprehensive electronic medical patient record solution implemented over ten years ago. This solution is considered a model for primary care across Canada.

ii) Online Patient Portal- My Health Matters:
Beyond its pioneering role in adopting electronic medical records, the GHC has also been involved in innovative programs in preventive medicine and the rollout out of an advanced web based patient portal. The patient portal originally provided Vascular Intervention Program patients with a tool for tracking their health status and sharing this data with their healthcare provider but has expanded to include a number of initial patients access to their static electronic medical records and a place for patients to record their own personal health information. It is anticipated that in the future all GHC patients (and all those they have granted access to their records) will have access to the on-line patient portal, My Health Matters.

iii) Canada Health Infoway Sponsored: EMRxtra Program
(Linking Pharmacists to Electronic Medical Record Information):

One of the most recent projects is the EMRxtra Program. The first of its kind in Canada, this program expands the continuum of care to include the community pharmacists in Sault Ste. Marie, in a secure and confidential manner, through electronic systems. With a focus on cardiovascular disease, pharmacists in Sault Ste. Marie will be fully integrated into GHC’s health care programs. With the consent of patients pharmacists will have access to their medical records in order look up patient drug profiles, lab test results, clinical intent of prescribed medications and the patient's care plan to provide the best medical care. Pharmacists will no longer need to decipher doctor's hand written prescriptions and prescriptions can more easily be filled after the physician’s offices are closed. This project is being completed in partnership with Canada Health Infoway and the Ontario Pharmacists Association.

iv) Ontario's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and eHealth (Ontario)'s ePrescribing Demonstration Project
The Group Health Centre (GHC) is part of the Ontario's eHealth strategy to improve patient safety.
GHC is one of two sites participating in a ePrescribing Demonstration Project being hosted by Ontario's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and eHealth (Ontario). Electronic prescribing involoves the physican or nurse practitioner using his or her computer to electronically generate, authorize and transmit prescriptions, through secure computer systems to pharmacists and other dispensers.

v) Healthcare Communications and Technology Centre:
In 2005, the Group Health Centre partnered with the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC) in the completion of the Healthcare Communications and Technology Centre. This state of the art facility includes the GHC server room and IT office facilities, a GHC call centre for scheduling appointments and houses the operations of the SSMIC’s Community Geomatics Centre.

vi) Health Informatics National Recognition and Award Winners:
The Group Health Centre (GHC) was the recipient of one of six Celebrating Innovations in Health Care Expo 2007 Awards and has been recently acknowledged in the October 2007 Ministry of Health and Long-term Care’s E-health newsletter where it was stated,

“GHC has been nominated for a CIPA award. The Canadian Information Productivity Awards (CIPA), now in their 15th year, are a celebration of IT and innovation implementation excellence in all types of organizations across the country. A CIPA award constitutes the highest form of recognition for the capabilities of an organization and its executives, and simply getting nominated is an honour in itself. GHC has long been recognized as a trailblazer in integrating e-Health into the delivery of primary care. In his landmark 2002 report on the future of health care in Canada, Roy Romanow singled out GHC, calling the centre’s integrated health care system the most advanced he had seen to date” .

In addition, in November 2007 Dr. Lewis O’Brien of the Group Health Centre won the Canadian Health Informatics “Community Based Physician Leader/Innovator” Award- for being a role model for using technology to improve the quality of patient care”.

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Health Informatics- Sault Area Hospital (SAH)

i) Meditech
The Sault Area Hospital (SAH) is currently undertaking a major IT project with the implementation of a complete Meditech Hospital Information System (HIS). This project will be the first hospital in the world to implement Meditech’s new version (5.6). As a beta site for this software version, SAH will be a model site for other hospitals. This project is also unique as SAH will be a “greenfield” site since then entire IT infrastructure is being replaced as part of this project.
ii) Wait time Information System

The SAH is also part of a group of 50 hospitals implementing the Wait Time Information System. This project is on very aggressive timelines and involves staff from many departments in the hospital as well as physicians and their staff. An important piece of this implementation is SAH becoming part of the provincial enterprise Master Person Index (eMPI).

iii) New Hospital with Advanced IT Infrastructure
Further, the SAH has stated building a new hospital in 2007, which will be a state-of-the-art facility that incorporates an advanced IT infrastructure and leverages modern building design.

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Local Health Area Network (LHIN) and Local Health IT Collaboration

i) Health Informatics Cluster Committee
Sault Ste. Marie has an impressive track record of cooperation among its health care agencies and local health organizations are committed to moving the Health Informatics Cluster agenda forward.

The GHC/SSMIC partnership to build the Health Communications and Technology Centre; the development of a collaborative GIS environment and the recent formation of the Algoma Healthcare Solutions group all point to a community that is willing to work together to achieve greater goals.

ii) ONe-Health Steering Committee
Another example is the collaboration between the SAH and GHC. These two organizations share human resource departments in an effort to streamline operations and create efficiencies. The SAH and GHC also participate in the Ontario North eHealth (ONeHealth) committee, which is ensuring the implementation of the Northern Ontario ICT Blueprint.

The mission of the ONe-Health Steering Committee is to build on existing investments to provide partner organizations with coordinated and interoperable information systems, building toward an integrated information system - as outlined in the Pan Northern Ontario ICT Blueprint - that supports the provision of care within Northern Ontario.

iii) Pan-Northern Ontario PACS Project (PNOPP)
The Pan-Northern Ontario Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) Project (PNOPP) is aimed at bringing a digital imaging service to healthcare providers in the North. The hospitals of LHIN’s 13 and 14 have voluntarily agreed to enter into a joint venture for the purpose of the implementation and operation of a shared digital diagnostic imaging repository (DI-r).

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Background on Health Informatics Institute

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Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre