Kitchener-Waterloo

Regional health agency first to connect electronic patient records

The Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington has received funding to connect patient records electronically.

CMHA Waterloo Wellington first in the province to securely transfer mental health information

Helen Fishburn, the interim senior director at the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington says the ability to transfer information in real time will allow "people to have better care.” (Amanda Grant/CBC)

Patient reports are now a click away for caseworkers, family doctors and hospitals thanks to funding of $190,000 to the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington.

The one-time payment from the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network allows the CMHA WW to receive and share patient reports electronically from hospitals and specialty clinics.

It becomes the first Ontario community health agency to receive patient reports electronically.

'Entire process exciting'

Hospitals and doctors have been communicating via e-health avenues on a regular basis, but community health agencies have not had the electronic mechanism to make actual file-sharing happen. Helen Fishburn, the interim senior director at the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington calls the new process exciting.

"We've had to Purolate and scan and fax that information to family doctors," said Fishburn. "That information gets delayed to family doctors."

Fishburn said the new method allows them to share important mental health and addiction information immediately with family doctors and have a positive effect on the volume of calls received to the Here 24/7 service.

Real time information

Fishburn says the new electronic system puts caregivers all on the same page.  

"Having this ability to now build onto that system and electronically transfer this information in real time allows people to have better care, shared care and prevent the risk that people are experiencing around their care," said Fishburn.

Here 24/7 is a toll free telephone line that allows people in distress to access crisis, mental health and addiction services. Helen Fishburn says they receive up to five thousand calls a month from people in need of services, and they connect those people to 11 agencies across Waterloo region and Wellington County.

The money is a one-time funding to build an electronic 'tunnel' from the CMHA WW client database into the Ontario MD's Hospital Report Manager, which allows hospitals to connect to doctors and family health teams.

The new high tech information route is scheduled to go live by April of 2017.