Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Canadian electronic health record (EHR) projects quadruple in four years

By Richard Pizzi, Associate Editor 08/12/08

Canada's electronic health record projects increased by 12 percent last year and have quadrupled since 2004, according to Richard Alvarez, president and CEO of Canada Health Infoway.

"Canadians want their medical information available electronically to the clinicians who care for them and that's starting to happen in communities across Canada," said Alvarez.

“Collaboration among governments is at an all-time high and with continued federal funding, we are well on our way to providing every Canadian with an electronic health record by 2016."
Canada Health Infoway is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the Canadian government. It jointly invests with every province and territory to accelerate the development and adoption of EHR projects in Canada.

Infoway approved $311.5 million in new EHR investments in 2007-08, bringing the total cumulative value of its investments to $1.457 billion, or 89 percent of Infoway's $1.6 billion in capitalization by the Canadian government. The investment brings the total number of projects underway to 254, representing a four-fold increase from the 53 projects that were underway in 2004.

"The electronic health record projects the government of Canada is investing in are coming alive (and) bringing tangible results," said Tony Clement, Canada's federal minister of health.

Clement noted, for example, that in Nova Scotia, a shared diagnostic imaging program provides digital images of X-rays, MRIs, CT scans and ultrasounds to authorized healthcare providers. He said patients in Canada's remote northern communities are connected with healthcare professionals in urban centers through telehealth, and electronic medical records are generating results in the face of growing clinician shortages and administrative demands.

Alvarez said he's seeing steady progress in all Infoway-funded electronic health record programs including registries, diagnostic imaging and laboratory and drug programs. He said Infoway would continue to target investments in "replicable solutions that support health system transformation, such as telehealth and public health surveillance."

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