August 31, 2023

Fostering success: The vital role of consumer participation in a seamless EMR rollout

Northern Health consumers are making a difference and improving health care processes and outcomes by regularly participating on various committees and focus groups and by being a patient voice during reviews.

Standard 2 ‘Partnering with Consumers’ happens at different levels of the health service including, individual service, department or program of care, health service governance, policy and planning.

The purpose of these partnerships is to improve the outcomes, experiences and the delivery of care by drawing on the knowledge, skills and experiences of people who are using, have used or may use the health service in future.

The Electronic Medical Record (EMR) is going live across Northern Health from next week. In the lead-up to go live, it was important for Northern Health to engage members from the Northern Health Consumer Network to advise on some of the key messages and campaigns of the EMR, including:

  • What is an EMR and what will it mean for Northern Health consumers
  • Patient privacy
  • What to expect when Northern Health launches an EMR
  • Patient journey at Northern Health

The EMR Change and Communications Advisory committee prepared early for partnering with consumers and patients considering options for consumer engagement. Early in the project, a Northern Health Consumer Network member was involved in an EMR staff facing video. This year, more consumers were engaged in a focus group and the health literacy CLEAR group to assist with ‘Go Live’ communications campaign and patient facing materials.

“It was a pleasure to work with the EMR team to engage consumers in a range of activities to assist with this important project,” says Sherrilyn Ballard, Consumer Participation Coordinator.

The EMR team was also delighted to work with Northern Health Consumer Network members on this project. In March 2023, the EMR team attended a consumer education session to provide background information on the project, benefits, what patients may see during the go-live, optimisation and ways to be involved moving forward.

Consumers were invited to attend a follow-up focus group to assist with patients facing materials development. Consumers provided feedback on ways to best promote the EMR, key messages for consumers, patient information brochure and distribution points.

“To understand fully what our consumers would like to find out about the EMR, the team ran a focus group in May. Four consumers came and provided valuable feedback on how to best communicate about the go live, as well as specific topics that they and the community would’ve liked to know more about,” said Ginnie Leung, Communications Advisor and Training Administrator EMR.

One of the consumers, Mary Shell, has continued her interest in the EMR through a range of consumer activities. Mary has had the opportunity to hear how the EMR will positively impact patients on their journey though the health service from her involvement on the Assessment and Care Planning Standard 5 Sub-Committee. She also attended the EMR education and later the focus group.

“I think it was really important to be involved in the focus groups and to be able to contribute to the EMR rollout, especially from a consumer point of view. In the long run, the EMR will not only benefit the clinical staff at Northern Health, in the sense of having easy access to information, but patients too, from the time of their assessment, right to the time of discharge. I think this change will be wonderful,” said Ms Shell.

Mary added that she, as well as the other consumers, are very excited about the final outcome and would like to stay involved and continue to contribute in the future.

“Thank you to the consumer representatives for helping the EMR team on coming up with key messages for consumer facing communications on the EMR go live. This piece of work will come to fruition in September, and we are all looking forward to it,” said Ms Leung.

Pictured in featured image (L-R): Mary Shell, Consumer and Sherrilyn Ballard, Consumer Participation Coordinator.