Saturday, July 21, 2007

E-health is key to re-engineering Canada's healthcare system.

Borderless. Seamless. Accessible in all reaches of our diverse country. A patient-centric healthcare system that delivers fast, accurate and assisted diagnosis and treatment. A system where health care providers are equipped to focus on prevention and evidence-based treatment. Where all points of care (homes, schools, family practitioners, community clinics and hospitals) are linked. Free from red tape and wasteful duplication. Offering individuals the tools to take control over their own health. A system where the privacy, security and confidentiality of personal health information is respected.

That is indeed the vision for Canada's health care system. It's based on e-health or the application of information and communications technologies (ICT) to improve the quality, accessibility and effectiveness of health care. It features a pan-Canadian electronic health record (EHR), a range of telehealth services, and trusted health information for all Canadians. It is focused on the needs of patients, practitioners, administrators, policy makers, researchers and the general public. It leverages the Internet and all supporting technologies.

E-health is not about replacing in-person care or simply cutting health care costs. Rather, e-health is about enhancing the overall quality of care, providing treatment choices and supporting self-care. Moreover, It's also about increasing the overall effectiveness of the system so that we get more for our tax dollars. E-health is key to re-engineering Canada's health care system.

William J. Pascal, Director General, Office of Health and the Information Highway, Health Canada.

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