June 15, 2024

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Nova Scotia medical records to go online in $365M, 10-year deal

Electronic health system rolls out in 2025

The provincial government announced on Wednesday it’s working with Oracle Cerner to create a new system that will modernize health-care communications.

Health Minister Michelle Thompson made the announcement at a news conference on Wednesday.

“Today we are taking another important step in our efforts to ease the administrative burden on Nova Scotia’s health-care professionals,” she said.

She said the new system is “needed to help our hospitals and health-care system operate more efficiently for the benefit of both patients and providers.

“For years, doctors and nurses and allied healthcare professionals have been telling government that the current models for collecting, recording and sharing information are robbing them of valuable time.”

One Person One Record (OPOR) is a digital system that stores patient information across the province. This lets health-care professionals access a patient’s up-to-date medical history much faster.

The system is being developed by Oracle Cerner, a large U.S. health-care IT developer.

Thompson said OPOR will work with the centralized surgical booking system launching in spring and the real-time bed capacity system at the Queen Elizabeth II hospital to reduce wait times for surgeries.

Two people sit at a desk behind a microphone while the person in front is speaking.
Michelle Thompson (left) and Christy Bussey (right) answer questions about OPOR on Wednesday.   Communications Nova Scotia

Christy Bussey, executive medical director with Nova Scotia Health, said OPOR is part of the province’s plan to modernize and digitize healthcare.

“Across the health-care system, it’s more than an information technology system, so it’s going to completely change the way that we deliver health care across the province,” she said. 

Bussey said the current information systems that OPOR will replace are slow and costly to maintain.

She said health-care professionals have to use multiple systems to access patient information and that the systems don’t always communicate. 

Bussey said many health-care facilities still depend on paper records.

“We can see there would be a potential for patient safety concerns in a paper system,” Bussey said. “If a physician or a nurse clinician writes an order on a patient chart, it may be open to misinterpretation and transcription error.”

Josh Lee, an executive director for the Department of Health, said the provincial government’s contract with Oracle Cerner lasts 10 years and is worth $365 million.

“In Nova Scotia, we’re not reinventing the wheel,” said Lee. “The contract includes best practice, leading practice methodologies of what has worked in other jurisdictions. It also includes lessons learned from other implementations.”

Lee and Bussey said British Columbia uses a system similar to OPOR.

“We’ve developed a partnership with B.C.,” said Bussey. “Many team members went to Vancouver General Hospital over a six-week period and trained in the system there.”

Hospitals and other health-care facilities in Nova Scotia will start using OPOR in two years.

Shazara Khan

Shazara Khan

Shazara Khan is a journalism student at the University of King’s College. Before coming to Halifax, she got a Bachelor of Science from her hometown of Ottawa. She loves classic films, especially musicals and Audrey Hepburn movies.

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