BHB prepares for PEARL’s implementation

Thursday 27 October 2022: Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) today provided an update to the community about its first BHB-wide electronic medical record system, which goes live in the early morning of Saturday 29 October. The system has been called PEARL (Patient Electronic & Administrative Records Log) by staff.

Nurse on an acute care ward with a ‘workstation on wheels’ that can be used in patient rooms

PEARL is an electronic medical record system that makes patient information, from medical history to the latest physician notes and test results, immediately available to those who are involved in a patient’s care. This information will no longer be on paper or limited to fragmented systems. This means BHB staff caring for patients won’t have to wait for paper records to be delivered, check multiple systems for key information and results, or wait for information that might not have been filed yet. PEARL makes it easier to avoid duplications and delays because everything a clinician needs is immediately available in one place, and always up to date.

CEO & President Michael Richmond notes: “We are preparing for an exciting and significant transition in how we work. A big thank you must go to our staff across BHB for their hard work. PEARL’s implementation rests on the shoulders of hundreds of staff involved in designing, building and testing the system since the project started in April 2021, and over 1,400 staff who
are attending training, even as they meet their duties as care providers.

Staff involved in integrated testing earlier this year

“Our focus now is ensuring BHB maintains services safely throughout the go-live. There will likely be a couple of weeks where staff will be getting used to new processes, and we will run slightly slower than normal, but our ability to use PEARL will quickly become more sure and faster each day. Once we are used to using the system, the opportunities for improvements are going to help us soar.

“Going live with PEARL is just the beginning. PEARL is a tool our staff will use to deliver what they strive to do each day – the best possible levels of care and the best patient outcomes, something of which Bermuda can be truly proud.”

Key information about how BHB is managing PEARL’s go-live:

  • PEARL will be used across all BHB services – at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute, Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre, and across all BHB group homes
  • All BHB services will continue throughout the go-live process, but it will initially take staff a bit longer to complete tasks as they put their training into practice
  • Elective activity (for example, non-urgent surgeries and outpatient appointments) will continue throughout, but there will be a phased reduction in work – at 50% of normal level in the first week after go-live and 75% of normal level in the second week after go-live. This will give staff some breathing room as they get used to using PEARL, minimising any potential patient safety or care risks. This is a best practice for implementing this kind of system, and follows advice from other hospitals and Cerner on how to successfully manage the transition
  • Emergency services will be open, but patients with minor conditions may experience longer waits. People are advised to see their GP if they have minor issues or need help managing their chronic illnesses
  • Additional Cerner employees and BHB staff who are PEARL super users will be positioned in departments, supporting staff ‘at the elbow’ in the first two weeks after go-live
  • A multi-level command centre structure is in place for the first two weeks in case there are issues that can’t be resolved at the department level, but need quick and effective resolution
  • After 10 November, we anticipate normal levels of elective activity will be restored, including surgeries

Chief of Staff Wesley Miller explains: “I am very proud to work with our staff as we prepare for this implementation. PEARL is going to transform what is possible in delivering the very best in safe, quality care across BHB. A system implementation of this size and complexity isn’t easy, but the reward of working through it will be in the enhanced ability to improve patient care and outcomes, which is at the heart of all we do.”

Chief Hospital Information Officer Keltie Jamieson adds: “Our focus over the next few weeks is on maintaining safe services as staff adjust. There will be a lot of on-the-ground support in departments as well as escalation processes for issues as our hard-working staff get used to something new. Patients and visitors in the first two weeks will see additional people in bright t-shirts who are the in-department support. We have done all we can to test and test PEARL again, but issues are normal in any major system implementation. The key is having robust structures to escalate and resolve them, which we have.

“There is so much to look forward to once we are through this implementation period, but step one is a successful implementation. That will give us the strong foundation we need to use PEARL as a tool of constant improvement in our pursuit of excellence.”

Click here for more information about PEARL

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Editor’s Notes – PEARL’s development to date:

  • PEARL will replace multiple BHB systems, and was necessary as BHB’s main clinical system was old and no longer going to be supported by the vendor
  • Cerner was selected via a competitive process involving about 100 BHB staff starting in 2018, with final approval in 2019 from the Board
  • The project was due to start early in 2020, but was postponed for a year due to the pandemic
  • The electronic medical record project started on 1 April 2021
  • The system was designed and built by the vendor, Cerner, in partnership with over 350 BHB staff
  • There have been two extensive rounds of integrated testing, involving BHB staff who ran patient scenarios to test all parts of the system
  • Although the project was undertaken because BHB’s main clinical system is being retired by the vendor, electronic medical records are the international standard of care. With all information in one place and clinicians across BHB able to share real-time orders and notes, care processes – such as a patient visiting emergency and being triaged, tested, diagnosed and admitted to an inpatient ward – can take place more efficiently

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