Lab results, diagnostic imaging reports, immunization records and much more are becoming available at the fingertips of community pharmacists across British Columbia.
Since late 2020, the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) has been working to link community health-care providers with a Provincial eHealth Viewer traditionally used by regional health authorities to access patients’ health records.
The view-only, secure access to patient records is available to community pharmacists who have enrolled in the platform 24/7 and can be accessed through the Internet using their BC Services Card as identity validation.
Initial implementation in community pharmacies began in February this year with select pharmacists and pharmacy locations with full rollout mobilized by late March. As of early July, at least 800 community pharmacists have enrolled with CareConnect at more than 400 pharmacies. MoH and PHSA intends to have as many connected licensed pharmacist users as possible by the end of 2021.
The idea behind the project is to give community health-providers a way to quickly obtain a consolidated view of a patient’s encounters with other health-care sources, such as hospital visits, details of care the patient may have received such as diagnostic imaging reports and lab results as well as access to Provincial Immunization Registry (PIR) for COVID-19 related vaccinations. In addition to generally improving the efficiency across the board while reducing the number of duplicate requests and the need to pick up the telephone to obtain the same information.
Patient records are accessed by typing in their Personal Health Number or in the case of those working with the Vancouver Coastal Health region, the patient’s Medical Record Number can also be used.
Patient information is broken into different categories: encounters, labs, imaging, documents, community documents, immunizations, and registration information. A timeline tool is also available to help health-providers obtain a quick visual summary of all the data available across those categories in a specific timeframe.
Encounters: records of “episodes of care” from facilities operated by Vancouver Coastal Health, Providence Health Care, Provincial Health Services Authority, Fraser Health, Island Health and Northern Health, with some records going back as far as the year 2000. In the case of centres providing life-long care, such as the BC Cancer Agency, an encounter represents the patient’s first admission.
Labs: provincial lab results from regional health authorities in addition to community labs such as LifeLabs, BC BioMedical, Valley Medical and the Canadian Blood Services.
Imaging: access to diagnostic reports available from the Provincial Diagnostic Imaging Viewer, with reports from all six health authorities in addition to some private clinics within Interior Health boundaries.
Documents: dictated and transcribed reports of consultations, discharge summaries, operative reports, history and physical reports, transfer summaries and more. Documents are dictated by physicians and other clinicians.
Immunizations: six sections which display a subset of information from the Provincial Immunization Registry: immunization history including COVID-19 vaccinations, recommended immunizations, special considerations, deferrals, adverse events following immunization, and risk factors.
Registration Information: displays patient demographic and contact information from individual Clinical Information Systems that provide data to CareConnect.
Community Documents: contains clinical summaries, care plans, case notes and assessments from Health Authority-based community care teams and Virtual Physician Network teams.
For a pharmacist to enroll to CareConnect, there are a few steps to follow.
- First, a clinic intake form (https://bit.ly/3AD5k2T) must be submitted. When completed, the applicant will receive enrolment instructions, which includes a privacy and security declaration.
- Next, the applicant’s identity will be verified: this must be completed by downloading the BC Services Card App, and includes a video validation with a Services BC Representative.
- After identity has been confirmed, the applicant can now log into the enrolment portal and create a “clinic” for their pharmacy site, or request to join an existing pharmacy site. An online privacy and security training module must also be completed at this stage. The module takes about 15 minutes.
- Once all those steps are complete, the user will receive a welcome package via email with a link to additional training and access to the CareConnect eHealth Viewer via internet. The user will use the same BC Services Card App previously set up as identity validation to access CareConnect.
The total time for a pharmacy to enroll is approximately 30 minutes, while it should take individual users around 30 minutes to one hour to enroll.