British Columbia

Island Health temporarily suspends troubled IHealth system

A paperless record-keeping system being tested at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital is being put on hold after months of complaints about poor usability and safety issues.

IHealth still expected to eventually roll out to other Vancouver Island hospitals

The review of the new IHealth system by Dr. David Cochrane recommends changes to improve management of medications and distribution of patient information and results. (Island Health )

The Vancouver Island Health Authority has temporarily halted the use of its IHealth software after numerous complaints about safety and efficiency.

IHealth is designed to provide complete digital charts and records for patients, but almost from the outset reports of problems came up during a test run in Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.

The program will now be suspended so those problems can be addressed over a period of months.

"The deeper learnings that we've had is that these systems fundamentally change the way that our physicians and nurses and other practitioners do their work," Island Health CEO Brendan Carr.

Specific complaints about the program, which rolled out in the first half of 2016, include that it is cumbersome, struggles to cope with the chaos of an emergency room and is prone to inputting errors and medication ordering problems.

David Forrest, a physician and president of the Nanaimo Medical Staff Association, expressed frustration these issues were not addressed earlier.

"There was a big impact, we felt, on the quality of care, so we raised that issue a long time ago, and have been continuing to raise that issue over the past 10 months," Forrest told All Points West host Robyn Burns.

"There have been no real changes to the system. We've felt for a long time that it needs to be reconfigured or redesigned and we've felt the plan currently of trying to fix or patch the system just wasn't going to work.

"Because of the ongoing safety issues, we felt an ethical imperative … that something needed to be done immediately."

Carr says the software is part of a larger shift in paperless health care delivery and Forrest also expressed his support for some sort of electronic health records system.

IHealth is still expected to eventually roll out to other Vancouver Island hospitals.

With files from Elizabeth McArthur and CBC Radio One's All Points West

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Island Health temporarily suspends troubled IHealth system