Whitehorse General Hospital in Whitehorse on Feb. 14, 2019. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Whitehorse General Hospital in Whitehorse on Feb. 14, 2019. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Yukon Medical Association doctors say new file sharing system a failure

System launched in June has created more work for doctors, compromised care, says YMA president.

The Yukon Medical Association (YMA) has condemned the territory’s new medical file sharing system and recommended the service be paused and replaced.

The YMA, which represents a collection of Yukon doctors, passed a resolution at their Nov. 5 annual general meeting.

The doctors gave the electronic health record system — launched on June 1 — a failing grade.

The resolution says that implementation of the new system, called Meditech Expanse, has failed at Yukon hospitals and “compromised patient care.” The motion called for a pause of the use of the system for computerized physician orders and for the investigation of an alternative system.

Dr. Ryan Warshawski, YMA president, explained that the new system was pursued under a well-intentioned government program called 1health that sought to remedy gaps in patients’ health records across different facilities and jurisdictions. While he said YMA supports unified record keeping, the current system is inefficient.

He described doctors spending 35 to 45 minutes per shift on record-keeping with the new system — time he says could be better spent on patient care.

Warshawski said the system’s user interface is poor and there was insufficient training for the medical staff using it. He said there was also insufficient consultation on the rollout of the new system and now he thinks the government is proceeding based on sunk costs rather than the program’s merits.

The new record-keeping system came up in discussion between MLAs and Yukon Hospital Corporation representatives at the legislature on Nov. 16.

Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers acknowledged the early challenges with bringing the system in but said he is pleased to see it going forward. A chair of the Yukon Hospital Corporation’s board said work on the system continues, and its goal is to collect and maintain information to give Yukoners the best health care outcomes possible.

Along with the challenges addressed at the YMA’s meeting, Warshawski said health-care workers in the territory are facing conflict and in some cases even violence relating to the government’s policies surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine mandates.

While he was sure to mention that the vast majority of patients are kind and a privilege to care for, Warshawski said some people feel the hospital is an acceptable place to air political grievances.

He said some situations have turned tense and violent and the difficulty this creates for health-care workers cannot be overstated.

“Whatever your views are, the hospital is a place for people to get well,” he said.

While he said he is in favour of COVID-19 vaccination and fully vaccinated himself, Warshawski said he worries that in some cases the approach to unvaccinated people is reinforcing polarization and the bad behaviour it can breed. He said everyone should be treated as an individual rather than a member of a group, and both health-care workers and unvaccinated people are no exception.

Contact Jim Elliot at jim.elliot@yukon-news.com

Yukon health and social services