Alberta Health Services signs $ 459 million deal for massive new technology system


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The Alberta Health Services Board has approved a $ 459 million deal with a U.S. tech giant to provide the health authority with an advanced clinical information system.

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The agreement with Wisconsin-based Epic Systems Corp. includes the installation of software that will form the new Connect Care network, as well as ongoing support and staff training.

“When you come down to some of these big systems implementations, there are really only a few vendors who can do something like this,” said Verna Yiu, president and CEO of AHS, Thursday night after. the vote of the board of directors.

“They (Epic) are very well known and very well established and they have a lot of expertise in implementing large systems.”

Epic’s website says the company currently supports electronic medical records for 190 million patients.

Yiu described Connect Care as a massive and “transformative” project that will provide a new integrated clearinghouse for all areas of AHS clinical care, including hospitals, outpatient clinics and continuing care centers. It is designed to consolidate the approximately 1,300 information systems that the health authority currently uses, many of which are very outdated, unconnected and expensive to maintain.

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For patients, the initiative aims to provide a single medical record accessible at all times in the healthcare system, including by the patients themselves. Healthcare professionals, who still use paper for some tasks, will move to more modern processes, while AHS administrators will be able to use platform data to improve quality and safety.

The NDP government has committed $ 400 million over five years for the project, although the whole initiative is expected to cost around $ 1.6 billion.

Plans call for the majority of costs to be covered by savings and efficiencies generated by the system and by shutting down old technology – a funding plan questioned by the province’s auditor general in a recent report .

Yiu said the Request for Proposals (RFP) process for Connect Care took about a year and involved a rigorous evaluation process. Epic was chosen from a shortlist of three bidders.

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She said the health authority learned lessons from a controversial and problematic bidding process in 2015 for a laboratory service provider in Edmonton. Health Minister Sarah Hoffman ultimately canceled this initiative.

A major difference from the last tender is that AHS had a leading “fairness monitor” to guide the process, Yiu said.

AHS has signed the contract and is hopeful that Epic will finalize the deal as early as next week, she said.

“Then it’s about bringing their teams to Edmonton to help us develop the roadmap and what will happen over the next year.

The original plan was to deploy the system in the Edmonton area first, but Yiu said the plan now calls for more simultaneous implementation across the province. The project is expected to last about five years, but at least part of the system could be in place at the Edmonton facility within two years.

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