Former health minister CEO says delaying Island Health EHR rollout would be 'regrettable'

While a Canadian health system presses on with a rocky EHR rollout, a former CEO and health minister says the challenge will pay off in the long run.

In a contributed piece to Times Colonist, Ken Fyke, former deputy minister of health in Saskatchewan and British Columbia, former commissioner on the B.C. Royal Commission on Health Care and Costs and former CEO of the Capital Health Region in Victoria, B.C, wrote it is in the best interest for hospitals to work through the challenges.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority in British Columbia is in the process of implementing Cerner's EHR, but physicians have asked officials to pause the implementation, citing patient safety concerns. Ultimately, Island Health has decided to move forward.

In his piece, Mr. Fyke writes a modern EHR is vitally important to a safe healthcare system. He draws parallels to other commonly referenced industries that have upgraded their technological infrastructure. "It is impossible to imagine a grocery store staff providing service without the latest electronic system. Or to imagine an airline booking passengers, coordinating flights and maintaining security without modern information systems," he writes. "Health providers are on the cusp of benefiting from technology to assist them as they face similar expectations in their daily practice."

While the implementation is facing some hurdles, Mr. Fyke writes Island Health will be able to best serve its citizens and patients with the new technology.

He acknowledges the frustrations and concerns of providers, but says this type of input and feedback is necessary to producing a stronger system. "Provider input to improve the electronic health record is important, indeed essential," Mr. Fyke writes. "Providers who express concern and identify specific problems are vitally important to overcoming glitches in the system. Everyone involved should be supported and encouraged to assist."

Mr. Fyke urges Island Health to push forward, and delaying the implementation as providers have asked would be "regrettable."

"While implementation of an EHR is a difficult and challenging task, I urge all parties involved to stick with it, accomplish your admirable goal and reap the benefits you so much deserve," he writes.

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