A step in the right direction: A patient's experience post-CST

Victoria Withers’ patient story starts with a friendly tennis match on Vancouver’s North Shore. In a heated volley, Victoria dove for the ball. Suddenly she went down, overwhelmed with pain.

It takes a lot of force to fracture a femur, but that’s exactly what Victoria did. On that late spring day in 2018, she was rushed in an ambulance to the Emergency Department at Lions Gate Hospital. And although she wasn’t thinking about it at the time, Victoria was visiting the hospital soon after the new clinical information system had been rolled out as part of the CST project.

“You’re in pain and you’re really looking for relief. If you can expedite the collecting of information and start focusing on the care, it’s to the benefit of the patient,” says Victoria, who is retired from the technology industry. Thanks in part to the new system, which held her up-to-date information from a recent visit (for an unrelated procedure), “it was a fairly seamless admittance.”

Her visit to the Emergency Department was the first step in a long road to recovery, with each patient ‘encounter’ documented in her electronic patient record. Following successful surgery, she came back to Lions Gate’s Physiotherapy Department as an outpatient. It was there she met physiotherapist Scott Bolton.

She was delighted to find that, because of the information captured in the CST Cerner system, Scott knew everything about her surgery, including how much blood loss she had experienced and the hardware that had been installed to repair her bone. This allowed him to develop a full care plan for her before their first session.

“As a patient, I discovered that the new system provides a seamless record of the patient’s health that can be shared with all the health providers,” says Victoria, whose other care providers included her family doctor and a bone density specialist at St. Paul’s Hospital. “I felt that everybody was speaking with one voice, so there wasn’t conflicting information. It provided me with what I felt was the best care.”

CST has opened up doors, Scott adds, instead of putting up barriers.

“I think we get more time with patients now. We’re spending less time trying to hunt down nurses and doctors for their specific orders if we can’t read the scribble that’s in the chart. So it’s saving us a lot of time as allied health,” said Scott. “This is such a step in the right direction. It’s modernizing the way we’re going to be able to give care.”

Victoria emphasized that patients can feel confident about the changes that come with CST. As a mother of four children who’ve found themselves in the hospital a handful of times over the years, she feels the patient experience has improved, with staff better able to focus on the patient instead of searching for information.

“I have more confidence in our health care system knowing that caregivers have the full picture and the history of a patient, be it an elderly person or a younger one.”