By deploying an efficient integration engine, New Brunswick’s province-wide EHR system has connected caregivers with 100 percent of finalized laboratory and diagnostic imaging reports.

By the end of this year, it also plans to connect them to 100 percent of the dispense records for prescription medications from community pharmacies.

As a result, these records will be accessible to authorized clinicians throughout the province. That was no small task, as the records were fragmented across New Brunswick, with data located at many sites in a variety of systems and formats.

To make its vision of ‘One Patient, One Record’ possible, the New Brunswick Department of Health selected Orion Health’s Rhapsody integration engine, and later on acquired Orion Health’s Clinical Portal and Clinical Data Repository (CDR).

Originally, the Department of Health had the difficult task of choosing between ‘ripping and replacing’ all of the systems that were in use – an extremely costly route – or implementing an integration engine.

The decision to go with Orion Health’s integration engine and related technologies meant that most of the systems could be left in place. The solution has proven to be efficient and cost-effective. These high-powered tools are paving the way to a completely integrated record.

In one instance, New Brunswick wanted to consolidate five-years-worth of data and capture it in the Clinical Data Repository.

Using the integration engine, 90 million messages were migrated into the CDR securely – ready to be used within the province for healthcare delivery. What could have been an arduous task was made significantly simpler with the right integration solution.

This situation underscores the importance of having an engine and repository that are scalable and future-proofed for the needs of tomorrow, and are not merely focused on the immediate demands of the healthcare system.

An integration engine needs to be flexible, scalable and highly adaptable to new needs.

A province’s changing priorities, agendas and policies also heavily influence healthcare technology rollouts. Not only is New Brunswick meeting these needs, but it is already looking to the future, including bringing in analytics to improve healthcare delivery. This would include studying the correlation between adverse weather events and the volume of ER visits.

There are more integration issues and challenges looming in New Brunswick and across Canada. But they can be solved with the right integration engines, tools and repositories. New Brunswick, for its part, is now tied with Nova Scotia for having the oldest population in the country (18.3 per cent of residents are seniors).
Only Florida has a higher proportion of seniors in North America. Adding to this challenge, New Brunswick must also contend with a population that is split nearly 50-50 between those who live in urban and rural areas.
In many cases, rural patients will see their GPs in town, but will travel to the city to meet with specialists.

As a result, the patient chart is located at several different sites – especially in the case of seniors, who often have multiple specialists and care-givers. As we look to improve the delivery of care, healthcare systems need to be integrated and interoperable so that patient health information is made available to careproviders, no matter the location.

This article originally appeared in print on the Canadian Health Technology site.

About the author: Gary Folker is Executive VP, Orion Health, North America. He is a frequent commentator on the topic of eHealth and healthcare system modernization.