The new bill aims to break the information stalemate in Quebec healthcare

According to bill 19, “the data will follow the patient, rather than the other way around,” says Health Minister Christian Dubé.

Article content

QUEBEC – With the healthcare system stuck in the dark age of file folders and faxes, the Legault government has taken a first step toward modernizing the way critical information is collected and shared about everything from patient medical records up to the number of workers in a CHSLD.


Article content

While it was primarily a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which exposed flaws in the information system (Quebec was unable to find out how many workers were on duty or track early vaccinations), Health Minister Christian Dubé presented on Friday legislation that he said would “ ease the flow. ” . “

Ultimately, “the data will follow the patient, rather than the other way around,” Dubé said, but added that it could take a while because modernizing any part of the healthcare system is an uphill battle.

The health system costs taxpayers $ 50 billion a year and employs 340,000 people.

“Yes, it is a colossal but necessary job,” Dubé said at a press conference to explain Bill 19. “The pandemic shed light on the weaknesses in our health system. Data problems were part of the equation.


Article content

“We don’t want to relive this. We want to ensure a fluid movement of information ”.

Quebec now has 9,000 data platforms operating in 34 regional health and social services authorities spread across 17 regions, Dubé said. The system is essentially hospital-centric, which traditionally means data stored in file folders.

When it comes to patient information, hospitals are reluctant to share it for privacy reasons, which, according to Dubé, can even make it difficult for test results to be transmitted along the chain to medical personnel involved in care. of a person.

Another example of the Byzantine system cited by the minister: while there are 8 million Quebecers, there are 30 million hospital cards in circulation, and patients have multiple cards for different hospitals. This system can prevent a South Shore patient, for example, from receiving care in the city.


Article content

“And that’s just one example of all the files, all the systems connected to the same patient,” Dubé said. “The idea is that those 8 million patients can move around Quebec.”

The complexity of the system and the lack of up-to-date data caught the government by surprise during the pandemic.

In a report released last week, Quebec ombudsman Marie Rinfret mentioned that one of the government’s shortcomings was its ability to assess the level of risk involved in transferring hundreds of hospital patients to CHSLD.

One reason was the lack of information about what was happening in the CHSLDs at the time, from staffing levels to the amount of personal protective equipment available.

Prime Minister François Legault has defended his government’s handling of the pandemic, saying he did the best he could with the information available.


Article content

When Dubé took over the Ministry of Health, he promised to tackle the bureaucracy in the system. Bill 19, he says now, aims to “modernize and decentralize” the entire network.

Among other measures, according to the bill, medical information is to “follow the patient” so that, for example, everything is eventually available on a smartphone.

The database would include information about each medical consultation with a patient, which that person could also consult and verify to see who else accessed the data.

Local health service administrators would have access, as would researchers under strict conditions. Under this new system, governments will be in a better position to plan actions, Dubé said.

He admitted that this will take time, but noted that Quebec was able to obtain the Clic Santé appointment system up and running relatively fast.

Still, Dubé issued a warning:

“In my experience, as a manager, such culture changes take time,” he said. “The important thing is to do things in stages, to take the right actions. I ask people to be patient. “

Bill 19 will be sent to the legislature’s health and social services committee for study. Public hearings are planned.

[email protected]



Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively yet civilized discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to moderate before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications – you will now receive an email if you receive a response to your comment, there is an update from a comment thread you follow, or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Principles for more information and details on how to adjust your E-mail settings.

Leave a Comment