July 25, 2024


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Implementation of the digital health record: Quebec civil servants must work in English

Implementation of the digital health record: Quebec civil servants must work in English

Employees of the health network have filed a complaint against the Quebec government with the Office québécois de la langue française because they have been forced to work in English since a $1.5 billion contract was awarded to American giant Epic Systems.

The American company won the largest IT contract in Quebec history last year to digitize the entire healthcare network.

The first phase of the agreement is a pilot project to implement a digital health record (DSN) at CIUSSS du Nord-de-l’Île-de-Montréal and CIUSSS de la Mauricie-et-du-Centre-du-Quebec. .

The project, called “Vitrine DSN”, is being carried out in collaboration with the staff of these two companies. However, meetings and training are held in English, as people at Epic do not speak French.

A few weeks ago, our parliamentary office learned that complaints were filed against the Ministry of Health and the CIUSSS de la Mauricie–Centre-du-Québec. Note that the working language in Quebec is French and staff do not need to know English.

The Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) confirms that it has indeed received and investigated these complaints.

“Tests are going on. “The office will ensure that workers’ linguistic rights are respected in the training provided to staff to implement the digital health record,” said spokeswoman Chantal Bouchard.

  • Hear Maxime Laporte, president of Mouvement Québec Français, talk about it QUB :
MSSS protects itself

For its part, the Ministry of Health hopes to respect the law.

“More in-depth checks are continuing and actions to find lasting solutions are already underway by EPIC,” spokeswoman Marie-Pierre Blier argued, noting that the MSSS offered its full cooperation to the OQLF. MSSS maintains that “many elements of these complaints” are baseless.

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If the training is not yet available in French, the ministry says it has simultaneously translated it “as an intermediate step”.

“During meetings, when teams invite English-speaking experts, conversations are translated. The aim is to have access to the best expertise, while ensuring that French is the language of reference and working,” said Ms Blier.

Once the DSN is complete, doctors at different institutions can, for example, consult a patient’s history without transferring a paper file from one hospital to another.

About 400,000 healthcare workers will need to learn how to use the new tool. Note that the network currently includes 9,000 information systems, 65,000 connected devices, 2,000 telehealth devices, and 220,000 computers.

Other conflict

Also, as our Parliamentary Office recently reported, the signing of a $1.5 billion DSN contract with US giant Epic Systems has radically changed the ministry’s orientations on the Your Health program.

In the summer of 2022, MSSS signed an agreement with Levis company Akinox to develop the first tax access counter (GAP) and the Vos Santé smartphone, a comprehensive portal for citizens.

Digital GAP allows orphan patients to make an appointment with a family doctor.

The Your Health application is available and will soon be available on Google Play Store and App Store, but it is being avoided by senior managers of MSSS.

According to our information, Epic Systems wants to start fresh, and without this expertise or this mandate, management wants to build another application directly connected to the DSN.

“Three Complaints” against MSSS

  • The Charter of the French language provides for penal provisions and other sanctions, to which anyone who violates the Charter or its provisions is liable.
  • The Ministry of Health and Social Services and legal entities such as CIUSSS de la Mauricie–Centre-du-Québec face fines ranging from $1,500 to $20,000.