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Insight from the inside of South Riverdale CHC's TELUS PS Suite EMR implementation

The South Riverdale Community Health Centre (SRCHC) agreed to be the beta testing site for the migration and implementation of Nightingale on Demand (NOD) to TELUS PS Suite Electronic Medical Record (EMR). Kathleen Foley, the centre’s Manager of Quality Improvement and Evaluation along with Lisa Kha the centre’s Data Management Coordinator, Parth Shah, Data Administrator, Hannah Bang, Administrative Support and Rebecca Merritt, Manager, Service Administration & Quality were all very accustomed to leading large change management projects at SRCHC. This team accepted the daunting task ahead and fully understood what it meant to be a beta site. They knew that, as the beta centre, they would face tremendous challenges, but were prepared to meet those challenges head-on. They also knew that any centres going live after them would benefit from lessons learned, processes and procedures developed and workflows documented during their implementation and so were diligent in their efforts.

Nevertheless, the centre was thoroughly tested. Spending more than 7,000 work hours over 18 months from kick off to go live. “The vendor”, said Kathleen, “is working hard to better understand CHCs, the work we do and how we do it.  I think they’re getting there.”

Kathleen went on to emphasize “and it is very important that if you have providers, who’ve used PS Suite elsewhere, reiterate to them that this is not the same. The complexity of our clients and our mandated reporting requirements have put design demands on the system that is different from what they might be accustomed to.” 

Kathleen offered to share two key insights into SRCHC’s implementation and the centre’s experience with the new EMR.

  1. Focus on Project Management – During the transition time having well-defined roles, good team structure and a committed executive sponsor helps immensely. Initially, there was confusion because of the lack of a working project plan, however, the centre understood that verifying the validity, order and timing of tasks would be a beta site requirement.
  2. Focus on Change Management – SRCHC provided tremendous support for staff through super users, regular briefings, and during the transition period, increased administration and appointment times and providing higher levels of individualized support for those people struggling with the new EMR. It’s been three months since they have been live on the new system and most staff have gone back to regular appointment times. Navigation and workflow in the new system can often be challenging and building time into regular team meetings to address questions has been very successful in providing support and building best practices.

The centre faced problematic functionality of the sector required forms and navigation in the PS Suite environment and SRCHC continues to work with the Alliance and the Telus team to address these issues.  

There was also good news. There are significant improvements in communication and document management in the new EMR. Also, sharing in PS Suite is possible and very easy. This means a centre that has developed eForms, encountering supports and other EMR-related documents can share with other centres. For a sector that values collaboration and building communities of practice, this is welcome news. The amazing staff at SRCHC continue to forge ahead with their new EMR.  We would like to express our sincere gratitude to everyone at South Riverdale Community Health Centre for their diligence and hard work in this implementation and wish them the best of luck as they prepare for Accreditation in January 2019.