PEI

N.W.T. doctor shares his vision of better health care with P.E.I.

Dr. Ewan Affleck has a relatively simple idea that he says will improve the quality of care of patients, a lesson he learned while working in remote corners of the Canadian Arctic.

‘It’s a safety thing’

Doctors need to put down the pen and paper, argues Dr. Ewan Affleck. (Shutterstock)

Dr. Ewan Affleck has a relatively simple idea that he says will improve the quality of care of patients, a lesson he learned while working in remote corners of the Canadian Arctic.

"When you're in these small places and you want support from a specialist or you need someone to look at an ECG or you need someone to look at a film or you need someone to review a chart, they can't have access to your information, and this potentially compromises your ability to provide care," said Affleck.

"I thought, well if everyone had the same chart then we could all just look at it digitally over a distance and it would solve that. And this was born out of my experience being in these remote places."

The realization launched a 17-year project, one that led the Northwest Territories to become the first health-care system in Canada to have one set of digital charts for all patients that can be shared across the entire public system, including doctors, nurses, even hospital pharmacists.

Affleck's work led to him becoming a member of the Order of Canada, and he is on P.E.I. this week to share his expertise.

Sticking to the basics

It wasn't easy getting health-care professionals across all of the territory to share one set of medical records, said Affleck.

It required a shift in the culture and that, he said, was a much bigger deal than any technological problems. Affleck said he stuck with his core argument to convince his colleagues.

"It's a safety thing, frankly," he said.

"That was the justification, that if we all had ready access to information we needed to provide quality care to patients, that they would improve the quality of care."

As for the technology, he said, that was purchased from a software vendor.

Affleck said P.E.I.'s small size and the signs he has seen of a collaborative approach in health care make it a good candidate for creating a similar system.

While he said he has some tips he can share, he said every jurisdiction is unique, and ultimately P.E.I. will have to implement a single-patient-record system in its own way.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Island Morning

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