Connect Care Planning Resumes with New Timelines and Sequence

As pre-pandemic activities restart across Alberta, Connect Care planning and implementation work is also resuming.

Waves 2 and 3 of Connect Care were temporarily delayed in March, given the significantly increased demands on our frontline physicians, staff and services, and the increased health risks our patients and healthcare teams faced due to COVID-19. While our response and management of COVID-19 continues across the province, we will be carefully and thoughtfully moving forward with preparations for the next waves of Connect Care, maintaining our ability to be flexible and ready for COVID-19 patients in the weeks and months to come, should demands change again in our province.

We have adjusted our rollout plan based on the impact of COVID-19. The launch dates for waves 2, 3, and 4 are as follows:
  • Wave 2: Launch date - Saturday, October 24, 2020
  • Wave 3: Launch date - Saturday, February 27, 2021
  • Wave 4: Launch date - Saturday, June 5, 2021
The areas that will be part of each launch wave have also been updated. Please review the Connect Care wave scope and sequencing diagram to learn which sites and programs are included in these launch dates:
A message has also been sent to staff, physicians and volunteers across AHS to advise them of Connect Care’s re-launch plans.

Community practitioners are an important part of every Albertan’s care team, and your ongoing support is vital  as together we move this provincial health care priority ahead. Thank you for your support.

Additional information about Connect Care activities will be shared soon. For Connect Care resources, please visit ahs.ca/ccproviderbridge, or email ccproviderbridge@ahs.ca.


IMPORTANT - Use New Provider Identifiers on all Lab Requisitions

The recent Connect Care launch involves much more than a health record. Aging laboratory, diagnostic imaging, pharmacy, registration and other systems are replaced by an integrated clinical information system (CIS).

Although the Connect Care wave 1 sites have a limited footprint, changes to support systems have far wider impact. Of greatest concern has been report of possible missing results and reports in eDelivery streams to non-Connect Care electronic medical records (EMRs).

After thorough and careful investigation, it is certain that laboratory instruments are correctly interfaced to Connect Care laboratory information systems. The right results are received without error and are correctly filed to external systems like Netcare.

However, some results and reports are delayed on their journey to the EMRs of ordering prescribers. Why?

The primary reason is uncertainty about exactly where to route the results. Legacy approaches to results routing involved many different laboratory information systems, with different physician directories. Connect Care brings a consistent and reliable prescriber registry to ensure precise results routing. Every provider has a unique identifier. This is combined with identifiers for the setting and department from where orders were initiated and results need to be returned.

Unfortunately, there are many test requisitions that still lack the correct identifiers. This forces a manual process for identifying the provider, location and EMR for routing. Critical and important results are communicated directly to avoid delay. Processes are firming up for increasing the number of old requisitions that can be routed manually without delay.

What can physicians do? The single most important corrective is to ensure that the new provincial provider, department and submitter IDs are used on all requisitions, that recurring requisitions are pulled and corrected with new ones, and that EMR vendor updates to incorporate definitive ordering identifiers have been applied.


Dynalife Laboratory Bulletin

The Wave 1 Connect Care launch included implementation of new laboratory information services affecting large portions of Edmonton and North zones. Moving to provincial lab standards includes a reliable and sustainable way to identify prescribers as well as the context in which they order laboratory investigations. Some eDelivery challenges relate to adoption of identifiers, with some transitional difficulties, as explained in this DynaLife Bulletin....


Resources for Post-Secondary Institutions and Regulatory Organizations

Connect Care's Stakeholder Advisory Group provides a forum for health education institutions, professional organizations and regulatory bodies to provide input to the Connect Care initiative and promote effective liaison.

A new website organizes information and resources that can help these groups with their Connect Care activities.


What Connect Care documentation will go to Netcare?

The Netcare Electronic Health Record (EHR) offers a cradle-to-grave, read-only, aggregated view of information from multiple databases about key health events in an individual’s life; information that any health care provider may need in order to serve an individual. Among that core information might be summaries of key events such as hospitalizations, emergency room visits and operations.

The Connect Care initiative integrates information for all Alberta Health Services, partner organization and affiliate clinic sites. Previously, Netcare's access to facility information was patchy, depending upon local arrangements for things like dictation and transcription. Connect Care brings all emergency rooms, acute care facilities and major procedural sites to consistent digital documentation. This can only improve prospects for Netcare to fulfill its informational purpose.

On the other hand, Connect Care amasses huge amounts of clinical documentation. This must be carefully selected before sharing with Netcare, or the Netcare purpose could be overwhelmed by information not aligned with the EHR value proposition.

Connect Care will share summative documents with Netcare. These include emergency room reports, admission histories, discharge summaries, transition summaries, consultations and operative reports. Summative documents can stand on their own, as they pull together and appraise relevant information at a single point in time.

Connect Care will not share formative or transactional documentation. This includes progress notes, procedure notes and other documentation that cannot stand on its own, but depends upon its placement in the larger clinical information system to make sense.

Netcare's interoperation capacity needs to be enhanced to be accept all the summative documentation that Connect Care makes available. Early improvements will be noted with consistent emergency, admission, consult and discharge summary sharing. Later, outpatient consult letters will be consistently captured.

The bottom line: Connect Care will make it easier for Netcare to have complete information in the categories it collates.


Alberta Precision Laboratories - Test Directory Changes

When clinicians order laboratory tests, they sometimes search a “Test Directory” to find information about things like test approval requirements, requisitions, sample types and containers, special collection requirements, and shipping and handling needs.

When Alberta Precision Laboratories (APL) was formed, it started bringing together multiple organizations (AHS, Calgary Lab Services, Public Health, Covenant and Lamont laboratories, etc) under common standards and terminologies. The new test catalogue is developed to serve as a single, provincial, source of truth for information related to the ordering, collection, shipping, handling and reporting of laboratory investigations.

Work is underway to develop a new interface to the APL Test Directory, with enhanced features and functionality. Completion is expected in late 2020. In the meantime an interim directory has been developed. This merges four legacy test directories into one database which will be searchable starting with Connect Care Wave 1 launch on November 3, 2019. Since multiple sources have been combined, users may see tests appear more than once in the interim directory. Work continues to align and amalgamate content.

Improvements will be made as directory continues to develop. Connect Care users will note that each orderable test includes a link to relevant information in the interim APL test directory. For more information:


Connect Care eDelivery Results Review

The launch of Connect Care on November 3, 2019 includes launch of an integrated laboratory information system that replaces a number of aging systems. Many laboratory test results will be sent to non-Connect Care Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) from the new clinical information system (CIS).

As with any change there is always the chance for unexpected challenges. For example, with provincial standardization of test names and normal ranges, some reports may look a little different from the past. It is important to be aware of this in the weeks immediately following November 3 and to be extra vigilant about ensuring that expected results make it back to the right chart in the right way. An update goes into more detail, offering a variety of additional sources of help:


Letters with Connect Care Provider IDs Mailed

We previously posted about how the transition to Alberta Precision Laboratories and integration of laboratory information services would entail new provider, practice and possibly location identifiers for physicians ordering investigations in settings where Connect Care is not the record of care.

Letters to implicated practitioners are mailed, with priority to the >5,400 active prescribers. A remaining ~3,000 letters are undergoing final checks of continued activity in the Province.

Physicians should receive soon.


Results and Reports Routing - Multisite

Prescribers who order laboratory tests, diagnostic imaging (DI) and other interventions from more than one practice location (site) will need to understand how the associated results and reports are returned for their review once the Connect Care clinical information system (CIS) is implemented.

We previously posted answers to questions for prescribers who use a single Electronic Medical Record (EMR) in a single practice location; a relatively straightforward use-case.

A new FAQ addresses more complicated information flows, such as those affecting physicians who work with more than one EMR, more than one practice location or a mix of EMR(s) and the Connect Care CIS.


Netcare Upgrade - October 10, 2019 - Note Anticipated Changes

The Alberta Netcare Portal electronic health record continues as a major hub to electronically share health information among authorized providers throughout Alberta. Netcare benefits from the integration that Connect Care brings to lab and diagnostic imaging services, as reflected in changes  scheduled for October 10, 2019.

Additional information is available online and questions can be directed to albertanetcare@ahs.ca.


Connect Care Results and Reports Routing

The Non-AHS Community Physician Advisory Group (NACPAG) has been busy working through anticipated Connect Care impacts on test results and reports routing to ordering providers.

Two communication aids emerge. The first, posted here, answers questions for prescribers who use a single Electronic Medical Record (EMR) in a single practice location; a relatively straightforward use-case. eDelivery of results and reports to the EMR is maintained. Indeed, it is improved in many ways. There are changes to identifiers added to laboratory requisitions which are important for physicians to prepare for. An "eDelivery Frequently Asked Questions" is linked below and will be sequentially posted to this blog.

A second FAQ will address more complicated information flows, such as those affecting physicians who work with more than one EMR, more than one practice location or a mix of EMR(s) and the Connect Care CIS. Coming soon.

For now, please promote this blog and widely circulate the FAQ:


Connect Care supports for Community Physicians

Alberta Health Services (AHS) partners with the Alberta Medical Association, the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the Alberta College of Family Physicians to ensure that all physicians, including those not implementing Connect Care, are kept up-to-date about Connect Care developments that could affect them and their patients.

A Connect Care Bridges blog (bridges.connect-care.ca) focuses on the needs of physicians outside of Connect Care settings. 

A general-interest blog (bytes.connect-care.ca) posts daily with brief updates about health informatics topics of interest to physicians. 

A Connect Care website (ahs-cis.ca/ccproviderbridge) gathers in one place documents, news and updates of interest to community physicians.

Other physician-oriented Connect Care resources are summarized on a one-page handout (resources.connect-care.ca) and the Connect Care physician website (md.connect-care.ca) is a good place to get oriented.

Email inquiries from providers not anticipating use of Connect Care as their record of care can be directed to ccproviderbridge@ahs.ca.


How will Connect Care relate to Electronic Medical Records?

Alberta Health Services (AHS) strives to support the information sharing needed by the patient’s entire healthcare team, within and without Connect Care.

The electronic medical records (EMRs) relied upon by healthcare providers outside Connect Care settings must not be negatively impacted as Connect Care rolls out. Instead, the clinical information system (CIS) should expand opportunities for safe and effective information sharing. There are a number of ways for external systems to leverage the benefits of Connect Care.

A continuing eDelivery service brings laboratory test results, diagnostic imaging reports and other important information to EMRs in ways that allow the right information to be correctly placed in the right chart. Connect Care will make eDelivery easier by standardizing and simplifying the source for much of this information. Physicians currently receiving any form of eDelivery will be able to access a wider range of tests, reports and notifications as Connect Care rolls out. This is facilitated by AHS and the EMR vendors, so there is no need for physicians to request any expansion of eDelivery services. Physicians new to or seeking eDelivery can learn more online.

The Central Patient Attachment Registry (CPAR) and Community Integration Initiative (CII), are joint undertakings of Alberta Health, the Alberta Medical Association, and AHS; allowing EMRs to send and receive standardized summaries of patient needs with the Alberta Netcare provincial electronic health record. In time, Connect Care will also interface to CII and both draw from and contribute to CPAR data.