New information systems to strengthen care for seniors and mental health clients across Northern BC

Northern Health has put in place two major information technology projects to provide better care for seniors and mental health clients through clinical decisions based on stronger evidence.

The Resident Assessment Instrument (RAI) will help caregivers track the clinical needs of seniors through the use of computers and electronic records. SYNAPSE is a software program that puts clinical and administrative information about mental health clients into a secure electronic health record, offering care providers improved access to patient information.

?Information technology improvements through the BC Government?s eHealth strategy will help health professionals deliver faster, more effective treatment to patients through new information technology and telemedicine,? said Health Minister George Abbott. ?We are supporting health regions in building a unified, universal and cost-effective health services information network that will improve care and reduce costs while enhancing information privacy rights.?

The RAI initiative will benefit Northern seniors because caregivers will have more information available to plan and make clinical decisions for their clients. Health providers can also track health conditions over time with computer records more effectively than with paper files. The RAI will also help NH to develop better services for seniors by having more evidence on which to base program planning.

SYNAPSE will give care providers more detail about a mental health client?s unique condition along with information on clinical standards to treat certain conditions. The new system is part of the development of a consistent mental health system across Northern British Columbia. Work is now underway to expand SYNAPSE to support NH?s Addictions programs.

The cost of running RAI is approximately $38,000 a year. The annual operating cost for SYNAPSE is $45,000. ?We intend to link these two projects into NH?s new Health Link North clinical information system,? said NH Chief Information Officer Joseph Mendez. ?Health Link North will provide a single secure electronic health record, eventually capturing a client?s health history through all of Northern Health?s programs in hospitals, health units, and long-term care settings. I would like to acknowledge and thank the Ministry of Health for their leadership in support of NH?s eHealth strategies.?

The RAI and SYNAPSE initiatives are part of the B.C. eHealth initiative to build an integrated, electronic system that improves outcomes for patients by making their specific information available in hospitals, doctor?s offices – wherever and whenever they need to seek health care services.