In 2006, the Community Mental Health Clinic Guelph-Wellington-Dufferin adopted CaseWORKS as their information system. To Anna Tersigni-Phelan, it’s “a front-line point of care solution that simplifies and streamlines our scheduling and case recording.” What’s the best thing it brought to her clinic? “The right information to the right people at the right time.”
Imagine that you’re the Manager of Health Information Services at a busy clinic in southern Ontario. Your job is to ensure that health records on all clients – past, present, and future – are recorded, used and stored in ways that are (a) accurate, (b) accessible to your caregivers and (c) hidden from prying eyes.
No problem? Well, just to make it a little more interesting, imagine also that:
• Your centre has to share data across nine different locations
• You have to manage health records on over 92,000 thousand patients
• You have accumulated health record data for the last 38 years
• Your legacy information system is bursting at the seams
• You’ve lost data entry support staff
• Your clinic is chronically under-funded for I.T.
• Your caseloads are increasingly severe and complex and
• You’re under pressure to comply with funders’ reporting requirements and privacy legislation.
Still interested in the job?
Amazingly, Anna Tersigni-Phelan, who faces exactly these challenges at the Community Mental Health Clinic Guelph-Wellington-Dufferin, is not only still interested in her job, she sounds positively energized when she describes the Information and Technology headaches that until recently characterized her job description.
Partly, it’s her nature. After 27 years at the Clinic, Ms. Phelan still communicates the energy and optimism of
And partly, her enthusiasm stems from the fact that on May 1, 2006, her Clinic began to implement a new health care information system,
“All of our I.T. needs for the last 15 years are now being met,” said Ms. Phelan about the rollout of
“As fond as we were of it,” continued Ms. Phelan, “our old system was just breaking down. We needed one that keeps complete paperless records, one that is both reliable and accessible. CaseWORKS streamlines our workflow and, as a result, minimizes errors.”
Reliability and accessibility were just two of the factors that contributed to their decision to switch to CaseWORKS. “We spent three months looking, and narrowed our search down to three potential systems. In the
In fact, Ms. Phelan described the customization process as a partnership. “The software was good for caseworkers, but we also needed it to understand the specific workflows of mental health caseworkers. George Evink,
Beyond the modifications to the system’s main Dashboards and Scheduler, tailoring the system also involved programming
This reduction in paperwork and bureaucracy comes thanks to a key CaseWORKS module called eForms, which streamlines and digitizes the collection of data into electronic, ‘data-aware’ forms. Implementation of the Clinic’s customized eForms is slated for ’Phase 2‘ of the rollout, once everyone is up to speed on the core modules.
Another big advantage of
According to Ms. Phelan, early reports from front-line workers are that it is “very, very useful. We provide ‘cradle-to-grave’ service for the severely mentally ill in our community, and we really need to have case record information at our fingertips. This web-based software allows us immediate access to electronic case records across all of our sites, and to the appointment schedules of all our staff – both day time and after hours. When an after-hours crisis worker receives a call, for example, he or she can look up the information required to manage the client’s health care journey. And a social worker can look up anything related to his or her own caseload.”
As the Health Records Manager and “software point person” for the entire Clinic, Ms. Phelan has been involved with every phase of the transition to
Her overall assessment? “It’s very nice software. It brings us closer to being real-time and accountable. Information plays a very important role in our work, and
As of September 2007,
Executive Director Fred Wagner agrees, adding that their new software system “is an enabler in our mandate to deliver person-centred care. We’re experiencing increasing demands from our multiple funders, and we’re moving towards increased integration via Ontario’s Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN). CaseWORKS is a powerful and incredibly flexible tool that has brought a client-centred approach to our case records, increased our capacity to track outcomes, and facilitated improved organizational decision making.”
Ms. Phelan states, “We are very fortunate to have Caseworks to carry us into the next phase of Ontario’s eHealth vision, bringing the right information to the right people at the right time. The Coyote staff are working with us to further enable our clinic to provide population health data and quality outcome information and to meet all of our funder requirements.”