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Richard Alvarez, Canada Health Infoway

by Lloyd Davis

Some lessons from Canada

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Federal government sets the standards and national principles while provinces do the heavy lifting (80%+ of spending) - within the 13 provinces there are 100 regional health providers.

We’re still trying to do a 21st century job with 19th century paperwork. This has a knock-on impact in terms of risk-management and prevention - people miss out on treatment, errors are made in diagnosis. But the need to manage health information will intensify - resource pressures are intensifying, consumerism is growing, population is aging, care settings are shifting - providers, managers, patients and the public are demanding more access, quality and productivity.

Canada Health Infoway was created as part of First Ministers Agreement in 2001. It’s an independent, not-for-profit corporation accountable to 14 different governments - estimated $10 billion total program cost.

Collaboration is the name of the game - as well as co-investment. We’ve been forming strategic alliances with the private sector, managing risk and remembering this is a people-solution so we’ve been focusing a lot on end-user acceptance.

We’re concerned to show benefits in terms of quality access and productivity - so we’ve developed 23 new key indicators to measure and show improvement.

We’ve made enormous progress, all the client registries are active and operational, e-prescibing and lab information systems are rolling out as is medical imaging. So we’re now in a position to start showing how EHR’s can be leveraged to improve care at a local level.

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