By Chad Ingram
Haliburton Highlands Health Services will spend up to $2.1 million on a centralized electronic records system with Ross Memorial Hospital Campbellford Memorial Hospital Northumberland Hills Hospital and Lakeridge Health.
HHHS board members made the decision at their Oct. 29 meeting.
“There are a number of organizational and patient-care benefits” Bruce Pye chief information officer for HHHS and the Ross Campbellford and Northumberland hospitals told board members.
Among those benefits were standardization of care and efficiencies in staff time since searching for and passing physical paper records between medical staff would no longer be required.
Collaborating on an integrated clinical information system is also most cost-effective for the health-care organizations Pye said noting that the hospitals he’s involved with could not afford such systems on their own.
“The four organizations I work with are all fairly small” he said.
Lakeridge Health which serves Durham Region is by far the largest of the five organizations involved in the project and will pay the bulk of the estimated $85 million price tag.
The Haliburton Highlands Health Services Foundation which raises money for equipment and capital projects at the Haliburton and Minden hospitals will be charged with raising the funds for HHHS’s portion up to a total of $2.1 million.
Foundation chairman Peter Oyler told directors the foundation’s board has recently voted to support the project.
“The board lent its support to the venture” Oyler said adding that it was “not without some dissension around the table.”
Oyler said some foundation board members felt they were being asked to make a large decision in a short timeframe and also that a “clinical information system” might be a tougher sell than other pieces of equipment.
“It’s a huge undertaking for this community” Oyler said noting it was the largest request of the foundation since the HHHS buildings themselves were constructed.
The foundation has raised more than $11 million for capital projects at HHHS and will focus on fundraising for the system during 2018 2019 and 2020.
First requiring approval from the province Pye said requests for proposals for the project would ideally be issued in the spring with submissions received in the months following.
He said the design and build phase on the system would likely take between 18 months and two years with the system going live site by site during a succeeding six-month window.
Members of the HHHS board were supportive.
“Electronic health records is not a question of do it or don’t do it” said director Len Logozar. “It’s a question of survival.”
Board member Jan Walker said the integrated approach made sense.
“You’ll never be able to do it on your own” she said adding she knew of $100 million organizations that could not afford such systems on their own. “It’s a must in the current environment.”
HHHS’s annual budget is around $20 million.
“There will be a cost to maintaining this” said Dale Robinson currently chairman of the board’s finance committee. “We’ll have to find that money in our budget. That is not money the foundation will be responsible for.”
Annual operating costs for system could range between $150000 and $230000.
Robinson said he was disappointed there was not more leadership and involvement from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care on the process.
HHHS CEO Varouj Eskedjian said historically the ministry has not provided funding for information systems and despite the project’s integrated approach doubted it would be different in this case.