June 15, 2006 Alberta cancer surgeons have implemented the world's first Web Surgical Medical Records program (WebSMR) and will be extending the program to other parts of the province thanks to $1.4 million in funding by Canada Health Infoway.
The new tool allows doctors to fill out a standardized electronic report after performing surgeries. The reports can be shared by the entire cancer care team, enabling them to make better decisions and improve the quality and safety of post-operative care for patients.
"Alberta is committed to reducing cancer mortality 50 per cent by the year 2025," says Dr. Anthony Fields, vice president of the Alberta Cancer Board. "A tool that tracks the effectiveness of surgical procedures is an important step toward that goal." Without consistent improvements to cancer prevention and treatments the aging population in the province will contribute to a doubling of cancer cases by the year 2025. "We're committed to leadership in innovation," says Fields. "WebSMR is a technology we expect will be of great interest to surgeons around the world and it's a technology that will help us have better patient outcomes." "This innovative approach will enhance healthcare quality by improving outcomes for Albertans who undergo cancer-surgery," said. Dr. Sarah Muttitt, Infoway's Acting Vice-President, Innovation and Adoption."
Surgeons previously dictated reports after surgeries, which were later transcribed and filed. The process was expensive and time consuming and retrieving information for analysis required an exhaustive chart review.
But the new technology, developed by Alberta surgeons, allows doctors to invest the same amount of time to complete a standardized template while still in the surgical suite. Dr. Walley Temple, Chief of Surgical Oncology at the Alberta Cancer Board's Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary says, "This approach has really moved surgery from an art to a science. Suddenly, you can analyze what works and what doesn't work."
It's as effective as dictating, says Temple, but produces 50 per cent more information, on average, than narrative reporting. "We can now give out that information in one day, and it's more accurate and reliable."
WebSMR was designed to provide clear guidelines and outcome indicators across health regions. It was first implemented for liver and rectal surgeries working in partnership with the Calgary, Palliser and Chinook Health Regions. It has since been adopted for use in breast cancer surgeries and extended to the Alberta Cancer Board's Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton.
The technology allows readily available data on the outcome of surgeries that can be compared with other surgeries and techniques. It can also be used to compare the ability of regions to adhere to the recommended protocols and identify areas where necessary resources to meet guidelines may be lacking.
The National Outcomes Conference June 15, through 17 in Banff will showcase the technology to surgeons from across the globe.
The Alberta Cancer Board offers a fully integrated program of cancer research and evidence-based prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment and education programs in collaboration with Alberta's universities and health authorities. It operates the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton, the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary along with associate and community cancer centres throughout the province.
Canada Health Infoway is a non-profit organization which invests with public sector partners to accelerate the development of health information technology in Canada.
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