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Port Alice Nursing Station
From left, Dr. Kevin Garneau-Bégin and RN Silja Hitchen

Electronic clinical documentation comes to rural Port Alice

When Dr. Kevin Garneau-Bégin​ started his medical practice in Port Alice in March 2020, one of his goals was to help implement electronic health records (EHR) for the residents of the small community.

“We’ve been talking about IHealth [EHR] implementation for about a year and a half,” Dr. Garneau-Bégin says about communicating with colleagues and staff, “and the team was really keen and actually very supportive.”

Serving approximately 800 people in the North Island, the Port Alice Health Centre team includes two part-time physicians, one full-time registered nurse, casual nurses, medical office assistants and a social worker.

On November 8, the Port Alice Health Centre went live with electronic clinical documentation, a major step in moving from paper-based records to EHR.

Dr. Garneau-Bégin emphasizes the importance of EHR in the transfer of patients from the primary care centres to acute care hospitals and back.

“Our clinical documentation from here in Port Alice will be automatically transferred, and that information will be captured at any hospital [within Island Health]. Often, working in a hospital environment, we don’t have access to the clinical records from family doctors,” says Dr. Garneau-Bégin.

“IHealth allows us to provide safer care, and also allows us to work in a more team-based environment,” both being major benefits of using the EHR, according to Dr. Garneau-Bégin​.

“I feel more a part now of the Island Health team as opposed to before, when I was writing my notes on a piece of paper that was kept in a filing cabinet. Now all my notes are documented within the electronic health records and everybody that provides care to that individual — whether doctors or clinicians or providers — will have access to those primary care records.”

Ultimately, improved communication between health care providers and care for the patient is what the EHR implementation is all about.

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