Connect Care expands across the Lakeland

LAKELAND - In a step toward what the provincial authority believes will improve healthcare, Alberta Health Services (AHS) is undergoing a transformative shift with the introduction of Connect Care. This province-wide initiative is set to change the way health information is managed and shared, addressing current challenges and aiming to improve the patient experience.

On Nov. 5 several AHS healthcare facilities in the North Zone launched Connect Care, including Athabasca, Barrhead, Boyle, Cold Lake, Edson, Elk Point, Fort McMurray, Hinton, Jasper, Lac La Biche, Mayerthorpe, Red Water, Slave Lake, Smoky Lake, St. Paul, Swan Hills, Wabasca, Westlock and Whitecourt, according to information from AHS.

“Connect Care is a clinical information system that will house all AHS medical records, prescriptions, and care history at AHS facilities. It is a system that empowers patients to interact with their health care information and allows health care providers to use the system to identify the decisions and approaches that best improve Albertans’ lives,” according to information from the Alberta Medical Association.

Jo Anne Beuke, a nurse with AHS in Edmonton, says “Connect Care is a long-awaited solution that will significantly enhance the accessibility of information for both patients and healthcare providers. While there may be a slight adjustment period, especially in regions like Cold Lake and the northern areas, the overall impact promises to make the exchange of important medical data more effective.”

Currently, health information within AHS and the organizations it is partnered with, is dispersed across hundreds of different systems. This scattered information results in healthcare providers having access to only a portion of a patient's health history, leading to the frustrating need for patients to repeat their medical narratives multiple times, according to AHS.

“Patients may experience temporary longer-than-normal wait times at these healthcare facilities for a few days before, during and after launch,” reads a letter sent to stakeholders by AHS. “This temporary adjustment is to ensure our healthcare staff can continue safely managing patient flow and provide appropriate care to our patients while adjusting to Connect Care, a new patient information system.”

AHS says the safety of patients will remain a priority during the launch.

“Ultimately, it is important to ensure our staff and physicians are able to continue providing safe and appropriate care to patients during the launch period,” reads the letter from AHS. “During this time, our North Zone launch sites will remain open with services available, however, wait times may be longer than usual.”

The shift towards Connect Care signifies an extensive move toward modernization, where an increasing number of healthcare providers will transition from traditional paper-based methods to using advanced computer systems and handheld devices, AHS says.

“Implementing this innovative system... is intended to bring about a significant improvement in the efficiency of information exchange between patients and physicians. While the initial transition might present some differences, we assure you that our commitment to providing top-notch care and quality service is guaranteed,” Beukes says.

Residents of Alberta who have visited a facility implementing Connect Care now have the opportunity to register for MyAHS Connect. This online patient portal serves as a platform, granting individuals access to a range of health information, including test results, medication details, managing appointments, and communication with the AHS team.

Chantel Downes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lakeland This Week