Our hospitals are under pressure. Please be patient with us as wait times may be longer than usual. Read more.

Hamilton Health Sciences Home
HHS is the first hospital system in the province to retrieve lab results from the province’s Ontario Laboratories Information System (OLIS) using Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) technology. With FHIR, lab results are available instantly. This new pathway is made possible due to Epic, HHS’ new hospital information system. (Stock photo)
June 29, 2022

HHS is first hospital in Ontario to use cutting-edge FHIR technology for instant lab results

Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS)’ new Epic hospital information system has given doctors a `surefire’ way to get patients’ lab results instantly from the Ontario Laboratories Information System (OLIS) data base.

Actually, make that sure-FHIR.

OLIS is a central electronic storage site that gives authorized health care providers like HHS doctors access to lab test orders and results from hospitals, community labs and public health labs across the province.

FHIR, which stands for Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, is a cutting-edge new way to access OLIS’ health-care information instantly. Hamilton Health Sciences is the first hospital system in the province to retrieve OLIS’ lab results using this advanced FHIR technology.

New possibilities with Epic

“With Epic, came the ability to access OLIS lab results instantly using FHIR technology.” — Michelle Leafloor.

“This is now possible because HHS’ new health information system, Epic, is able to integrate with FHIR,” says Michelle Leafloor, vice-president of health information and technology services, and chief information officer for HHS.

Michelle Leafloor, vice-president of health information and technology services, and chief information officer for HHS.

Hamilton Health Sciences launched the new Epic system on June 4. This fully digital hospital information system replaces dozens of electronic and paper systems and eliminates time that hospital staff and physicians spend looking for information. For the first time, every patient’s medical information will be available in one secure place online.

“Tracking down these lab results could really be time consuming before Epic.” — Mark Berry.

“With Epic, came the ability to access OLIS lab results instantly using FHIR technology,” says Leafloor. “When an HHS patient has their blood work done anywhere in the province, results are stored in OLIS and available to HHS physicians through FHIR.”

Results are instant, adds Mark Berry, senior consultant with HHS’ health information technology services.

Life before FHIR

Hamilton Health Sciences serves patients from across the region and beyond. Prior to Epic, patients’ results would be faxed from their hometown lab to their family doctor, as well as to their HHS doctor. But somewhere between the fax machine and doctor’s desk, this paperwork sometimes got misplaced, leaving doctors and their administrative assistants calling to labs to re-fax the results. Since Epic is a fully electronic system, fax machines and paper are no longer used.

“Tracking down these lab results could really be time consuming before Epic,” says Berry.

While doctors also had the option of checking lab results through OLIS prior to Epic, it was a time-consuming process without FHIR.

Berry knows from first-hand experience how drawn out the process could be. His daughter was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when she was a toddler, and received care at HHS McMaster Children’s Hospital.

“A lot of time was spent at her appointments waiting for blood results to be tracked down,” says Berry who lived about one hour from Hamilton at the time and had her blood work done at a lab in their hometown.

“Accessing lab results using FHIR is definitely going to mean much faster access to lab results, and therefore better patient care.”