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March 29, 2022

Successful implementation of Region North Denmark’s biggest IT project

At the weekend, North Denmark Region started using its new electronic health record system, NordEPJ. All three regions in western Denmark are now using Systematic’s electronic health record (EHR) system Columna for handling drugs, patient data and bookings etc.

“We’re live! The implementation of the region’s biggest IT project – NordEPJ – is a reality!” This was the post published by North Denmark Region on LinkedIn shortly after the first employees showed up for work and started using the system on Monday morning, 28 March. 

Several years of detailed preparation and many months of training were put to the test at the weekend when the hospitals and other hospital units in North Denmark Region made the switch to Systematic’s electronic health record system Columna, or NordEPJ as it has been named in northern Jutland.

The implementation went according to plan, and the CEO of North Denmark Region was happy and relieved to announce that everything had gone well:

“The project has been well organised, and has been implemented on time and within the approved budgetary framework in spite of COVID-19, which impacted the start-up phase and restricted our working conditions in general and our collaboration. So, with a successful implementation behind us, I can calmly say that we’re very happy,” said Christian Boel, CEO of North Denmark Region, shortly after the go-live on 28 March.

Financial benefits for the regions and better treatments for citizens

NordEPJ replaces several of the hospitals’ key IT systems by bringing them together in an all-in-one solution, and users consequently have high expectations.

“I think it seems promising. It’s quite an intuitive program once you start clicking around in it. It’ll be great having everything brought together in one place,” said Carina Rosenvinge, a medical secretary at the emergency and trauma centre at Aalborg University Hospital, to TV2 Nord, which visited during the weekend before the go-live.

In addition to making life easier for healthcare professionals, there are other benefits for the three regions in western Denmark which are all now using the same electronic health record system, says Henrik Jespersen, Group Senior Vice President, Sales, at Systematic Healthcare:

“The three regions have benefited greatly from cooperating on the basic modelling of the system and optimising the workflows which are supported by the EHR system, but there are also financial gains to be made from the joint procurement and development of, for example, new functionalities in future,” he says.

In general, Henrik Jespersen believes it will be easier to create a unified, digitalised healthcare system in Denmark’s regions and municipalities if cooperation is strengthened across the board.

“The basic elements of the Columna system are the same as in the Cura electronic citizen record system, which many municipalities are already using in the social care sector. The common platform facilitates the sharing of data between regions and municipalities, which at the end of the day is better for citizens when their care and rehabilitation after hospital admission, for example, is transferred to the local authority. We are in the process of developing solutions that support such cooperation,” says Henrik Jespersen.

One of North Denmark Region’s ambitions is to offer more digital health services tailored to the needs of individual citizens, and which can more easily be included in daily tasks. Mads Duedahl, chairman of the regional council, said:

“NordEPJ can far better support new mobile and telemedicine solutions. So, it’s nice that we can start looking forward to the new possibilities offered by the system long term – both for citizens and for our health professionals.”

Strong cooperation resulted in a successful process

Prior to implementing the system, 150-200 employees from the hospitals in northern Jutland helped to decide what the system’s user interface should look like. As part of this process, doctors, nurses, medical secretaries, dieticians, physiotherapists etc. were all involved to ensure that the new electronic health record system supports the workflows, challenges, needs and daily routines of the 13,000 employees working at the region’s hospitals.

The intensive preparations have been very worthwhile, because after the go-live, the region’s support unit reported that no significant errors had been registered in the system – mainly just questions relating to its use.

Facts about EHR in the regions

  • NordEPJ is based on Systematic’s Columna Clinical Information System (CIS), an electronic health record system that has been developed in collaboration with Danish healthcare professionals and therefore tailored to workflows at Danish hospitals. The solution has been in use at all the hospitals in Central Denmark Region since 2010, while the Region of Southern Denmark is currently busy rolling out the system at its hospitals.
  • At the beginning of the year, the Region of Southern Denmark started implementing the same EHR system, which is expected to be fully implemented in May 2022.
  • NordEPJ is being implemented in all three hospital units in North Denmark Region: Aalborg University Hospital, North Denmark Regional Hospital and the psychiatric services in North Denmark Region.
  • NordEPJ’s core elements comprise health record handling, medication, requests and results from laboratory and imaging systems, patient administration and booking.
  • NordEPJ will be the primary IT tool for approx. 13,000 doctors, nurses, secretaries and other staff at the region’s hospitals.
  • At the time of the municipal reform in 2007, Denmark had 23 different EHR systems. In 2022, there are two: The health platform used in Capital Region of Denmark and Region Zealand, and Systematic’s Columna Clinical Information System (CIS), which is used in Central Denmark Region, the Region of Southern Denmark and North Denmark Region.
  • Following implementation in North Denmark Region, Systematic’s EHR system will have 58,000 users – 13,000 in north Jutland, 23,000 in central Jutland and 22,000 in southern Jutland.
  • Together, the three regions have more than three million inhabitants: approx. 590,000 in North Denmark Region, approx. 1,320,000 in Central Denmark Region, and approx. 1,220,000 in the Region of Southern Denmark.