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LETTER: One Patient One Record - Another Example of Government Mismanagement

Karla MacFarlane
Karla MacFarlane - Contributed

There has been much discussion about the province transitioning all health records to a centralized system: “One Patient One Record” or “OPOR.”
On a surface level, it makes sense.
But, based on this government’s track record of mismanagement, we need to look closer at this project. Especially when it could cost taxpayers up to one billion dollars to implement.
The government has a responsibility to make sure we are building the best system, not only for today, but also for the future. However, the more we learn about OPOR, the more concerned we are that this “new” system could use technology that was in place 10 years ago.
Back then, most of us didn’t have iPhones. Just think about how far we’ve come in the last 10 years. I can’t begin to imagine where we’ll be in another decade.
This isn’t the type of forward-thinking this province needs.
Unfortunately, if we use technology that is outdated now, it will probably cost us more in the long run. But we only have to look as far as our neighbours in P.E.I. They attempted a consolidated record system in their hospitals. It seems that without proper planning, they spent their budget and still don’t have a proper system.
British Columbia experienced similar challenges when they made the move. One of the two e-health record providers shortlisted in the contract bids here in Nova Scotia, faced much criticism about its system in BC. There, the province saw significant cost overruns and was afflicted with technical errors, particularly in the area of prescriptions.
As a result, a B.C. medical staff organization was so concerned about patient safety that its members rebelled and refused to use their iHealth system.
What options has the government considered? Have they looked at other jurisdictions – what has worked and what hasn’t?
Based on discussions with physicians across Nova Scotia, they haven’t even been consulted as to what might work for them. The people who will be using this every day and no one has even asked?
With the government keeping its blueprint for this project so secret, it begs the question of, what they’re hiding?
Why won’t they share information or get feedback from system users? Why won’t they tell doctors if they’ll be forced to switch over or provided the option? Will they show us the business case for this extraordinary spend?
Is there an effective alternative to OPOR, one that allows us to spend within our means and will work for doctors? It seems like the starting point is consultation with our physician community. Showing them the respect they deserve.
If the government chooses to forge ahead without heeding any warnings, please consider the experiences of P.E.I. and B.C. and account for that in any contracts that are signed. Give us an “out” if similar issues arise and certain thresholds are not met.
Let’s set clear milestones so every Nova Scotian can follow along with the progress of this system and feel confident that their dollars are being put towards a system that can truly help to deliver better care.

Karla MacFarlane
PC Health Critic
MLA Pictou West

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