Many of my professional colleagues say they are being let down by most of today’s electronic medical record (EMR) systems. While the EMR captures lots of information about the patients they see, it all too often doesn’t solve for one of the thorniest issues in clinical workflow—care team communication and collaboration. Perhaps that is why a savvy group of healthcare professionals in Ontario, Canada, have taken matters into their own hands by making use of a popular business solution that helps keep professionals connected.
Doctors working at the Wise Elephant Family Health Team, a 10-physician primary care group scattered across three locations in downtown Brampton, came up with the idea of using Microsoft Yammer to stay in touch. After all, Yammer was designed to network business people in much the same way that Facebook keeps friends and family connected, but with the high level of security that businesses demand. Staff at Wise Elephant use Yammer to connect with all of the professionals working on their patient’s behalf-- doctors, nurses, receptionists, lab personnel, pharmacists, occupational therapists and even community care workers who deliver care to their patients.
Yammer proved to be so valuable to Wise Elephant staff that one of the founding doctors, Dr. Sanjeev Goel (right), set up a not-for-profit organization, Health Quality Innovation Canada (HQIC), to bring Yammer and other useful tools to healthcare professionals across southern Ontario. So far, more than 2500 individuals have joined the initiative.
In addition to improving care team collaboration and communication by using Yammer, Dr. Goel and his group now employ software and application developers who are customizing other Microsoft technologies like SharePoint Server to securely connect with community EMR systems in clinics and hospitals across the region. This includes work on an e-referral system and a patient portal that provides patients with information about test results, appointments and wait times. The work being done by HQIC is so good that the organization is attracting members from a variety of other healthcare organizations across Ontario including Cancer Care Ontario, the Ontario College of Family Physicians and several hospitals. You can learn more about solutions being developed by Wise Elephant Family Health and HQIC by reading this article recently published by Canadian Healthcare Technology.
Don’t you just love it when physicians start thinking outside the box to solve some of their most pressing needs? After all, who knows better than clinicians themselves how to really improve patient care!
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft