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Photo by Mark Newman

Photo by Mark Newman

Dr. Bill Evans, president of the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre, stands in front of the server that runs the new MOSAIQ computer system that will connect the JCC with cancer care providers in Niagara, Burlington and Brantford.

Computerized cancer care

MOSAIQ will link JCC with other cancer centres

 By Mark Newman, News Staff

The patients may not notice anything different, but the way cancer care services are being delivered at the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre is undergoing a significant change.

“This hasn’t been done before anywhere effectively in the world,” said JCC president Dr. Bill Evans of the MOSAIQ computer software system that is being installed at the JCC and three other hospitals within the Local Health Integration Network or LHIN. “This is a kind of unique experience we’re going through here.”

The software will eventually link oncologists and other care givers at the Concession Street facility with the new Walker Family Cancer Centre (slated to open March 24) in St. Catharines and chemotherapy suites at Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington and the Brantford General Hospital.

The system is being installed by Elekta, a Swedish company that provides a variety of   systems and equipment for treating cancer and brain disorders.

Canada Health Infoway, a federal agency, has provided $4.4 million to cover most of the cost of the cost.

Installation of the new system, including the addition of new software to more than 400 computers at the JCC and fiber optic cable links between the four sites began in January 2012.

The system has been running in St. Catharines since last summer and some doctors at the JCC are using it.

Evans noted the next big step in the process should occur sometime in May when all clinical scheduling will be moved to the MOSAIQ system, which will also gather demographic data required by Cancer Care Ontario.

Evans said the new system will enable specialists at all four sites to share information on their patients’ previous cancer treatments and set up referrals between the sites in a matter of seconds.

“Previously we’d have to make a phone call, we would have to ask for the health records and have them faxed to us,” Evans said. “From a patient point of view, one of the benefits is that instead of having to tell your story to different providers 10 times, providers should just be able to pull it up.”

Training on the new system is well underway and Evans noted there have been a number of glitches and growing pains, but he remains hopeful all of the problems will be worked out in the coming months.

“There’s a tremendous amount of change involved here and work processes have to change,” Evans said. “I think perhaps we in some respects underestimated the magnitude of change for everybody from a business clerk who is booking the patient to the doctor who is prescribing the chemotherapy to the pharmacist who is preparing it.”

Computers have been installed in all the clinic rooms at the JCC although Evans added how many doctors feel comfortable keyboarding in front of patient remains to be seen.

The new system also means the beginning of the end of paper charts and files for cancer patients.

Evans said the cancer centre sees about 7,500 new patients each year and starting in the late spring or early summer the records of all new patients will kept digitally only.

“Eventually this will take us to a total EMR solution, we will be out of paper,” said Evans, who noted they will continue to store the hundreds of thousands of patient files that are on paper.

While he admits some of his more senior colleagues are still grappling with the digital technology, Evans said the day is coming when doctors at the JCC stop using hand-written notes and paper charts and get all of their patient information off a computer tablet they will carry with them.

“That’s where we’re going and there’s pressure from our younger or computer-savvy physicians to do exactly that,” Evans said.

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