Major Ontario Long Term Care Project Launched

Some exciting news has arrived from our industry colleagues at the Ontario Long Term Care Association (OLTCA). They have officially launched a project — LTC eConnect — that is being supported by Canada Health Infoway. It is hoped that this program will enhance the lives of our residents immensely in long term care, as well as reducing administrative burden and enhancing communications with families, physicians and the stakeholders. OLTCA’s initial goal will be to connect 20,000 clinicians in the next 12 months. It is a very exciting day for the future of the long term care sector in Ontario!

Here is the bulletin…

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Announcing LTC eConnect

Starting this summer, the Ontario Long Term Care Association will be leading a project funded by Canada Health Infoway to provide Ontario long-term care homes with secure access to residents’ electronic medical information from provincial and regional data sources including hospitals, CCACs, regional cancer programs, lab results, and diagnostic imaging reports.

The Ontario Long Term Care Association has taken the lead on organizing this important project, known as LTC eConnect, in collaboration with Canada Health Infoway, eHealth Ontario, and software companies PointClickCare and ThoughtWire. The Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors and the Ontario Long Term Care Clinicians are key partners.

Benefits of participating in LTC eConnect

A major benefit to long-term care homes is that privacy controls are being implemented to address sector concerns about ehealth connections. Privacy controls will ensure that only registered professionals have access to secure information available in the integrated Electronic Health Record (EHR), and only about the residents under their care.

LTC eConnect has the potential to substantially improve the quality and timeliness of resident care, particularly following transitions of care. LTC eConnect is also expected to reduce duplicate orders, eliminate unnecessary paperwork and follow-up calls, and support better clinical decision-making.

How LTC eConnect will work

The project is currently available to homes that are using PointClickCare. Clinical staff will have a straightforward access through their existing PointClickCare system.

PointClickCare was selected as it is used by 80 per cent of the sector and runs on a cloud-based platform, making it easier to implement LTC eConnect. The possibility of including other software companies in the future will be explored by Canada Health Infoway and the Ontario Long Term Care Association.

The plan is to connect 20,000 LTC clinical users to at least two of the following eHealth Ontario provincial EHR databases:

Ontario Laboratories Information System (OLIS): Most lab work is referred to community labs, which send their results to OLIS. Currently, most LTC lab results are delivered by fax. LTC eConnect may eliminate this step.

Diagnostic Imaging (DI) Common Service: Diagnostic imaging reports and images from all hospitals and all digitally enabled independent health facilities are available.

Hospital reports: These are currently available through regional portals that are (or will be) connected to homes through LTC eConnect. Access to this information will help to support transitions of care back to LTC homes.

This is the just the first stage in ehealth connectivity; long-term care homes will be able to access more electronic health record information (e.g., medication information) as the province expands its EHR infrastructure.

Next steps: Getting connected

Over the next few months, LTC homes that use PointClickCare will be approached by the project team to participate in LTC eConnect.

The project will start in South West Ontario where users will be granted access to the integrated EHR through the Connecting South West Ontario (cSWO) program’s regional clinical viewer, ClinicalConnectTM. Currently, there are 105 long-term care homes (sites) that have been approved for access to ClinicalConnect.

This secure web-based portal provides authorized users with real-time access to their patients’ electronic medical information from all acute care hospitals, CCACs and regional cancer programs in SWO, as well as OLIS and SWO Diagnostic Imaging Network data and information.

The second phase will provide users in the Greater Toronto Area and Northern and Eastern Ontario with access through the shared portal in those regions, the Connecting Ontario viewer.

To learn more about the Connecting Ontario Programs, visit the eHealth Ontario website.