ElectronicHealthcare 4(1) May 2005 : 112-114

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Bridging the Care Gap

NORTH Network recently won the prestigious President's Award from the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) "in recognition of its contribution to developments and advancement of telemedicine worldwide."

The ATA, the leading resource and advocate promoting access to medical care for consumers and health professionals via telecommunications technology, bestowed the award to NORTH as part of the proceedings at its 10th Annual Meeting and Exposition. In a category that recognizes institutional leadership, breadth, depth and effectiveness of programs and services, NORTH, the only Canadian finalist from an international shortlist, was chosen by the ATA's Awards Committee after being assessed in a number of areas: impact on the population it serves - including special needs groups - targeted education programs, number of sites, business model, long-term sustainability and effective partnerships and collaboration.

Here's what you need to know about NORTH Network:

What is NORTH Network?

NORTH Network is Canada's busiest and most comprehensive telemedicine program. Telemedicine (or tele health-the terms are often used interchangeably) refers to using communications and information technologies to support the delivery of clinical care, professional education and health-related administrative services.

Using live, two-way videoconferencing, NORTH clinicians apply the latest telediagnostic instruments - including digital stethoscopes, patient examination cameras, endoscopic equipment and digital imaging facilities - to examine and prescribe treatment so that remote patients can "visit" an out-of-town specialist from their home community rather than having to travel.

Where is NORTH Network?

NORTH Network's telemedicine clinics can be found in more than 100 telemedicine-enabled communities in Ontario.

Who belongs to the Network?

NORTH Network is a membership-based program of Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre (SWCHSC) in Toronto. NORTH offers technical and operational services to more than 100 Ontario members, including academic health science centres, community hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, clinics, nursing stations, long-term-care homes and educational facilities.

How did NORTH Network get its start?

NORTH Network grew out of a 1995 feasibility study sponsored by the Ontario Medical Association that examined how telemedicine could improve access to healthcare for citizens of rural and remote Ontario. Launched in four sites in 1998, NORTH Network experienced a significant expansion between 2001 and 2003, thanks to the support of Health Canada's Canadian Health Infostructure Partnerships Program (CHIPP).

How is NORTH Network supported?

NORTH receives funding primarily from Ontario's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, although the Network has received growth funding from more than 90 organizations.

NORTH's work is further supported through its relationships with the Ontario government's Smart Systems for Health Agency, which provides a provincewide telecommunications infrastructure that facilitates the electronic exchange of personal health information to Ontario's health providers, and with K-Net, a regional broadband network services provider directed by the Keewaytinook Okimakanak Tribal Council.

How many consultations are conducted through the Network?

Connecting urban and remote sites across the province, NORTH has experienced exponential growth and currently facilitates more than 1000 clinical consultations a month. To date, more than 700 specialist physicians across 80 medical specialties and more than 1,500 health professionals (including family physicians, nurse practitioners physiotherapists, nutritionists and speech language pathologists) use the Network to provide care to their patients.

In addition to supporting access to clinical care, NORTH supports continuing professional development and continuing medical education activities, with up to 3,000 people participating in more than 240 educational sessions a month.

How do patients access the Network?

Patient consultations are initiated by a primary care provider who wishes to refer a patient to a specialist or by a specialist who wishes to use telemedicine for follow-up appointments.

For more information, visit www.northnetwork.com.

Eight Montreal Healthcare Sites Choose Oacis for Electronic Health Record

Montreal-based McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM) have collaborated and signed an agreement to implement DINMAR's Oacis EHR as their electronic health record system. It should be noted that in order to respect the laws in force concerning the safety and confidentiality of clinical data, each establishment will have its own application and database completely independent of the other. When fully implemented across all care venues enterprise-wide, the Oacis system will help manage more than 2,800 beds, 80,000 inpatient stays, and over 1.6 million outpatient visits annually.

Alberta's Capital Health selects Agfa's RIS/PACS/Speech installation

Capital Health in Edmonton, Alberta has selected Agfa's integrated RIS (Radiology Information System), PACS (Picture Archiving and Communications System) and Speech Recognition solutions for its 13-hospital health region. Furthermore, Agfa and Capital Health will form a unique risksharing public-private relationship to improve the delivery of diagnostic imaging services.

Cerner Acquires French Information Technology Company

Cerner Corp. recently announced it has acquired Axya Systèmes, a Paris-based healthcare information technology company that specializes in financial, administrative and clinical solutions for hospitals. The acquired company's new name is Cerner France.

Xenos Introduces infoWEB 5.1 with Expanded Data Support

Xenos Group, Inc, the Data to e-Content Company™, announced the availability of Xenos infoWEB 5.1, the latest version of the information management solution that enables organizations to capture documents and data from disparate corporate applications and index, transform and securely deliver the information via Web browser, e-mail, fax, ftp and corporate portals.

Xenos infoWEB simplifies how documents and files are input, accessed and managed with a solution that easily handles a variety of formats including AFP, Metacode, PCL, PDF and ASCII to index, transform and deliver business critical information on demand.

eOptimize® Scheduling Selected by Comprehensive Cancer Institute

eOptimize Inc. has entered into a software licensing agreement with Comprehensive Cancer Institute ("CCI") of Huntsville, Alabama. Under the long-term license agreement, CCI will deploy eOptimize's About:Time® for Healthcare scheduling solution to manage and optimize the scheduling of patients and resources across a broad range of oncology services. CCI will implement eOptimize's About:Time® for Healthcare enterprise-wide patient and resource scheduling platform to manage their growing volume of patient encounters. The software will be utilized to streamline all the interactions between patient and provider to enhance the overall patient satisfaction.

Misys Healthcare Systems Provides Doctors with New Data Sharing Solution

Enabling physicians to connect with each other, hospitals, home care providers and patients, regardless of their current technology platform, Misys Healthcare Systems recently introduced Misys Connect(tm), a new Web-based data sharing solution.

Misys Connect gives physicians a single, secure source where they can view patient data from any care setting or clinical system. With Misys Connect, hospitals can connect with community physicians, home care and long-term care providers, and access important patient information around the clock from virtually any location as part of a truly connected healthcare community. The new product is part of Misys Optimum(tm), a family of products that promote patient information sharing across organizational boundaries, healthcare settings and technological platforms.

Teranet Archives PACS as Extension of Managed Recovery Services

William Osler Health Centre (WOHC) has expanded its relationship with Teranet to include archiving images from the newly installed PACS (Picture Archive and Communication System).

After successfully implementing managed recovery services from Teranet, EMC Corporation and JJWild Inc. last year, WOHC leveraged this investment to take advantage of Teranet's expertise to house their PACS archive offsite. With decreasing budgets and increasing demands it is imperative that hospitals make the most of each investment. WOHC has done just that by negotiating this new solution with Teranet.

The PACS archive will store medical images such as x-rays, MRIs and CAT scans. These images will be safeguarded with other online documentation, such as the hospital's lab, radiation and pharmacy data.

Trillium Launches "Think" Alliance to Transform Healthcare Experience

Trillium Health Centre has announced an alliance with eight of the world's leading technology companies to transform healthcare delivery over seven years.

Trillium's initiative is called THINK: Transforming Healthcare into Integrated Networks of Knowledge.

The budget for THINK is $100 million over seven years. This will be achieved in part by allocating a portion of internal resources and capital investments as well as reinvesting savings from efficiencies achieved in clinical and nonclinical areas.

By harnessing cutting-edge technologies to deliver data and imaging online and wirelessly, THINK will:

  • integrate multiple healthcare records - from lab tests and radiology to pharmacology and patient scheduling - into a single, electronic patient record
  • subject to patient approval, enable instant distribution of patient data to members of their healthcare team, no matter whether they are in their offices or on mobile PDAs and tablet PCs in the patient's hospital room or home;
  • permit the healthcare team to track progress of discharged patients online, enabling a continuum of care
  • provide connectivity between patients and their families with the hospital, specialist, nurse, general practitioner, pharmacist, home care worker and others involved in the continuum of care
  • reduce wait times for diagnoses and treatment
  • empower the patient to schedule diagnostic and other procedures online
  • allow healthcare workers to spend less time on paperwork and more time with patients.

THINK draws on the knowledge and expertise of some of the world's leading companies in data management, distribution, storage and security. Led by Trillium, the THINK partnership includes:

IBM, Project manager and integrator
Eclipsys, Clinical systems
Cognos, Business intelligence systems
Courtyard, Records integration systems
Sybase, Database Architecture
Agfa, Electronic imaging management
EMC2, Data storage
IMS, Disease management systems

Under the terms of the alliance, the nine companies will work cooperatively to develop integrated information systems for Trillium. Each of the companies has committed to putting its staff experts at Trillium, working side-by-side with the hospital team. Trillium will define the goals, procedures and operating environment in which the information systems must be made to work. Trillium also will test applications in hospital settings.


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