$4M medical software prone to crashes, slow downs
Dr. Mike Flemming says it's frustrating
Hundreds of family doctors in Nova Scotia have seen their $4-million electronic medical record system slow down or crash in recent months.
Doctors Nova Scotia, an association representing all physicians in the province, said it's a significant failure and it wants the situation fixed.
The Nova Scotia government encouraged the switch over to electronic record keeping, offering incentives of $10,000 dollars for doctors to adopt the product.
Dr. Mike Flemming is one of 575 Nova Scotian physicians who have been using the web-based Nightingale Informatix medical record software for years.
"When the system works, it works well," he said.
But in Nova Scotia, the Nightingale system has had problems.
Beginning last fall, it started slowing down, then between December and early February, the system completely crashed four times.
Flemming said doctors are frustrated when they can't access records.
"It's not just a patient, it's all your patients when it's not working well," he said.
Flemming also said the program does not allow doctors to take patient records with them if they leave one clinic for another.
"That's not what we were led to believe the system was able to do when we first signed on," he said.
Health and Wellness Minister Dave Wilson said the province is aware of the recent issues with Nightingale.
The province attributes the glitches to a software bug.
"We're trying to upgrade that system so that those clinicians that are using the Nightingale system in their practice don't seen any disruption or slowdowns," said Wilson.
The province is currently testing an upgraded version of the Nightingale system.
An upgraded version of the software is set for early March.
The upgrade is expected to improve the portability of patient records and the software's overall performance.
In a statement to CBC News, Trevor Henderson, the executive VP for Nightingale, said the company is working to fix the software issues.
"We do acknowledge there are performance concerns with the application," he said. "There is not an single root cause, there are several potential sources we are looking at. We are working with the Department of Health to address them."