main hospital building at night


Digital Technology Enhances Patient Care at Cornwall Hospital


By Jeanette Despatie, President & CEO. Originally published in the Cornwall Standard-Freeholder on Saturday, October 19, 2022.

November 14-20, 2022 is Digital Health Week, an annual celebration of digital health and technologies used to enhance access to care and improve the ability for patients to manage their health.

In 2016, Cornwall Community Hospital (CCH) introduced a leading-edge Electronic Health Record (EHR) to centrally store, organize, and access patient records; a 20-month transformational undertaking in collaboration with our EHR provider and the entire hospital, from senior leadership to front line, from housekeeping and porters to physicians, to create custom digital workflow solutions and electronically integrate our teams.

Today the EHR has improved our quality of care, patient outcomes, and safety through improved management, reduction in medication errors, new decision support tools, and improved communication and interactions between healthcare workers and departments.

For our hospital teams, the EHR has reduced the time they spend pulling patient charts, improved their access to comprehensive patient data, helped to mitigate patient risks, manage prescriptions, and improved the scheduling of patient appointments.

In essence, the EHR removed the silo approach to providing care and created cross-departmental teams on a consolidated digital platform, empowering our staff and physicians to collaborate for improved patient outcomes.

Implementing an EHR of this scale allowed CCH to achieve Level 6 of 7 on the HIMSS Analytics Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM), joining just a handful of community hospitals in Ontario recognized by HIMSS Analytics for reaching one of the highest levels of health information technology use.

This strong foundation of digital infrastructure proved especially critical throughout the pandemic; we were better positioned to respond to the needs of our community and build capacity. Almost overnight, the hospital opened a community COVID-19 testing centre and vaccination clinic, added additional bed capacity, and shifted to an appointment model for visitation, with all appointments, staffing and patient flow being managed directly within the EHR.

Our patients now also have remote access to their hospital charts using MyChart™, an app that pulls your medical record data directly from the EHR for remote viewing and sharing; and CCH was the first hospital in Canada to integrate the SeamlessMD app with its EHR for remote pre- and post-surgical monitoring. These digital apps are putting more CCH patients directly at the centre of their care teams.

According to one patient who registered for MyChart™ following their visit to the Emergency Department: I signed up, and when I first logged in, lo and behold, not only were my mammogram and x-ray results there, but also all the detail of what was done when I visited the Emergency Department was all documented – at least two pages worth of doctor's notes.”

Or, according to a patient testimonial from Maureen: “MyChart™ provides me with access to my clinical records at home or wherever I am. Having the ability to view my records prevents calls and visits to my primary care provider’s office and allows me to share access of my test results with my family.”

For one patient who used SeamlessMD to track their post-operative recovery progress at home: “I did not feel alone in my recovery and felt that some sort of monitoring of my recovery was happening behind the scenes.”

Now, as we look to the future of exceptional care with our new 2022-2027 Strategic Plan, Leading Innovative Transformation, digital health technology is playing a critical role in delivering on our strategic directions of Recovery, People, and Integration.

To enhance access to care as we recover from the pandemic, CCH is now accepting electronic referrals from primary care providers for various clinics, including diagnostic imaging, addiction and mental health services, stroke prevention, diabetes, and endoscopy – a first for a hospital in Eastern Ontario.

To better support our people, CCH will be implementing a new electronic staff scheduling solution, giving our staff more flexibility in how they sign-in and sign-out, submit shift changes and overtime.

Soon, the hospital’s EHR will be integrated with various long-term care (LTC) facilities to improve coordination, communication and strengthen integration between CCH and LTC homes in our community.

Those are just a few examples of how digital technology is shaping the future of Exceptional Care at Cornwall Hospital, and ultimately, in our community.

This Digital Health Week, I am thankful and proud of the work our teams have accomplished over the years in advancing digital health at CCH to improve patient-centred care. Not only has this positioned our hospital to adapt to environmental factors and the growing needs of our community, but an innovative healthcare environment is strengthening our ability to attract and retain today’s professionals.