NANAIMO — The price tag for the much maligned iHealth system, which was being tested at three health facilities in the Nanaimo area, is going up.
The official review by Ernst & Young of the transition to the new electronic records keeping program at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, Dufferin Place and Oceanside Health Centre was released Friday, Jan. 12.
The review said while it's recommended Island Health continue with the program, it will cost at least $220 million to do so, up from the most recent price tag of $174 million, and possibly much more. Slightly more than $117 million has been spent so far.
Health Minister Adrian Dix, speaking to reporters at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital on Friday, said the review was “highly critical, even quite devastating of how the system was implemented here in Nanaimo and has been implemented on Vancouver Island.”
The review made nine recommendations to improve communication and cooperation during the iHealth rollout, all of which Dix said he and the B.C. government accept. Under these recommendations, introducing iHealth will be paused as more realistic plans involving money, leadership and cooperation are drafted.
Dix said what stood out to him the most were the comments and concerns about a lack of productivity from a wide-range of Nanaimo hospital staff. Physicians at the hospital had previously gone on-record calling for the system to be suspended and said it put patient safety at risk.
“This is not a case of a small group of people at this hospital not wanting to accept change. The concern is broadly felt among the staff here. The problem, in part, with this system is that it was imposed and the people who had to deal with it on a daily basis were having trouble and they had nowhere to go. That was their view.”
Dix said he'll also announce a mediator on Tuesday, Jan. 16 to help with the future progress of iHealth. By working with a mediator, Dix said everyone involved with iHealth will become a stakeholder and all will have their voices heard, instead of the health authority dictating what happens.
“It's my expectation people will work together effectively with the guidance of the mediator to respond to problems. This is a new way of doing business at NRGH and reflects what I read in this and previous reports about the situation here.”
Dix said he has full confidence in hospital and Island Health staff being able to resolve any differences.
“They are extraordinarily dedicated people and members of the public who come here know this, that the people here really care about their hospital, they care about the patients and they want to make sure things succeed.”
iHealth was originally to be complete in 2016, then 2017 and then 2020. When asked by NanaimoNewsNOW, Dix didn't have an updated completion date.
“I want to finish in Nanaimo as soon as we can, make the changes we need to make to put in place here and then proceed to other jurisdictions learning the lessons we've learned here and using the approach we've used here as well.”
Island Health president and CEO Kathy MacNeil said in a written statement the health authority agrees with all the findings in the report and they "support the Minister's decision to appoint a mediator to support implementation of the recommendations." She said Island Health has to do better to work together with their staff.
On Twitter: @spencer_sterrit
Note to readers: This is an updated story. Adds statement from Island Health
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