This medical innovation, says surgeon Scott Cowie, is a game changer.
An electronic reporting system implemented at Langley Memorial Hospital now allows endoscopists (surgeons who perform colonoscopies/gastroscopies) to record images and create synoptic reports, and share these with other physicians throughout the Fraser Health region instantaneously.
Fraser Health is the first region in the province to implement such a system.
“It’s like a network that records the images you are taking from the patient,” Cowie said.
“And also, you create the report about the patient in that system rather than dictating them.”
The report is sent from the computer network from the endoscopy unit to the network for the entire Fraser Health region, and it is also shipped out electronically to all the referring physicians.
Cowie has been the physician champion for this project for about four years and LMH is the first site in the region to use the system.
“Our local site executive director was a strong advocate to help LMH move ahead in this,” said Cowie, who has been a surgeon at Langley’s hospital for the past 10 years.
“I think this may stand in counterbalance perhaps to the checkered roll-outs of EMR systems elsewhere in the province recently.”
LMH’s endoscopy unit is a busy service which offers 24-hour care to patients, and performed 11 per cent of the all screening colonoscopies for the region last year, including specifically identified high risk patients.
“This system will help us improve patient care and provide cost savings,” Cowie said.
“I think it’s a game-changer for a lot of reasons. It’s cost effective. It’s saving the health care system money because we’re cutting back on using expensive photo paper. That seems like a small thing, but it’s actually really expensive to print images out, which we had to do for quality purposes, so now it’s electronically captured, so that saves a fair bit of money.”
Cowie said a crucial element is the ease in which information can be shared.
“Fraser Health is a big region, geographically,” Cowie said. “There are about 70 physicians doing endoscopy across the region at different sites, and they all share information to each other about patients. For example, if I’m doing a scope here (at LMH) and that patient needs another procedure in the near future or three years from now, what I capture and see here wasn’t easily available for somebody, say, in Abbotsford.”
In past, at the very best, physicians at other hospitals would be delivered a grainy, black-and-white image that Cowie described as “hardly useful at all.”
“But with this system, because we plan to put it out at every site in the region, they will be able to see images exactly as I see them,” he added. “Instantaneously, too, so there’s no lag in seeing it.”
Quality metrics is also a key, Cowie noted.
“We’re really focused on looking at outcomes for patients,” Cowie explained. “We’re doing, like, 4,650 surgeries (at LMH) a year, and (the) Fraser Health (region), we’re doing about 45,000 procedures like this a year. These are high-volume things so we want to make sure everything is being done properly and achieving the outcomes you want to get. There’s very specific quality measures.”
In the broader picture, the system “is going to make everybody’s job a lot easier,” Cowie said. “In the immediacy of actually using it, it’s as easy as what we did before, so it’s value added.”
The system is being rolled out across the region, starting at Surrey Memorial and then, on a monthly basis, to all of the other Fraser Health hospitals, including Royal Columbian, Eagleridge, and Burnaby.