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Thursday January 21st, 2016

Posted at 8:00pm

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Clinicians take part in training for the cSWO Program’s Regional Clinical Viewer, ClincialConnect. (Photo: TransForm SSO)

The provincial promise of a comprehensive electronic health record for patients in Windsor and abroad has taken a step closer to reality, thanks to a program funded by eHealth Ontario called connecting South West Ontario (cSWO).

According to a press release issued Wednesday, over 37,000 doctors and other health care professionals from Windsor to Hamilton now have access to patient records housed in hospitals, cancer programs and other provincial health databases – a development that adds up to better patient care and could result in health system savings, all in one fell swoop.

“This is a significant milestone,” Health and Long-Term Care Minister Eric Hoskins said in the release. “Enabling clinicians and health care professionals to access patients’ information, such as lab results, diagnostic images and hospital reports in a timely way is very important in providing high-quality patient care and supports improved access to care and our government’s Patients First Action Plan.”

The improved access is largely due to a tool called ClinicalConnect developed in Hamilton and rolled out across south West Ontario over the past several months – in Windsor, by TransForm, a shared service organization owned by area hospitals. ClinicalConnect is a secure, web-based portal that allows authorized health care professionals to see patient records stored in other hospitals.

“Having the best available information at hand is crucial for providing the best possible patient care,” said Dr. Darren Cargill, a Palliative Physician from The Hospice of Windsor and Essex County and a ClinicalConnect user. “Often times a patient’s medical records are scattered throughout multiple systems and ClinicalConnect helps to bring those records together for us. ClinicalConnect is a huge step forward in realizing a universal electronic health record for patients.”

Dr. James MacLean of the cSWO Program agreed.

“The cSWO Program is providing clinicians with timely access to hospital clinical records throughout south west Ontario,” MacLean said. “This has enabled health care providers across the continuum of care to make more informed decisions resulting in better patient outcomes.”

To date, ClinicalConnect has been rolled out to 69 hospital sites – including Windsor Regional Health – and a host of other health care locations throughout South west Ontario. The release assured readers that health records are only ever accessed by those in a patient’s “circle of care.”

The cSWO Program said it’s trying understand how the new tool helps health care professionals provide quality care to their patients and increase their efficiency by eliminating the need to manage paper-based records and reduce duplicate tests, improving focus on health care delivery.

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