Toronto

eHealth plan aims to harmonize GTA records

The much-maligned eHealth Ontario agency is embarking on a $72-million plan to create a single electronic health records system for hospitals, long-term care centres and family health teams in the Toronto area.

The much-maligned eHealth Ontario agency is embarking on a $72-million plan to create a single electronic health records system for hospitals, long-term care centres and family health teams in the Toronto area.

The system, dubbed the ConnectingGTA system, would link 700 health providers from 43 Toronto-area hospitals and 201 nursing homes. That means a doctor at one healthcare facility can see a patient's test result or drug information entered at another facility on the network.

Health Minister Deb Matthews says it's money well spent.

"Fewer tests need to be done, better patient care, fewer medication errors — there are a number of ways that this will actually get better value for money," she told reporters on Wednesday. "This is a major step forward for eHealth Ontario."

The CEO of the University Health Network, Bob Bell, said the project will make things easier for the typical patient.

"He might have had an MRI at Markham Stouffville, a bone scan and Toronto East General, a CAT scan somehwere downtown.  [It's] much more cost effective for me to learn about those investigations and study them prior to seeing the patient," he said.

The first phase of the project will be completed in 2013.

But the system won't connect family doctors' files to other healthcare facilities.

eHealth Ontario, which was mired in controversy two years ago, has been tasked with creating electronic health records for all by 2015.

The scandal, which included lucrative untendered contracts and lavish expense account abuses, saw $1 billion spent over a decade to develop electronic health records but with very little  to show for it.

It forced the resignation of a health minister, the agency's CEO and other key players.

With files from The Canadian Press

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