Canadian Implementation of e-Health projects increases by 39 per cent



    Initiatives benefiting patients in every province and territory

    TORONTO, June 25 /CNW Telbec/ - Canadian patients are benefiting from a
39 per cent increase in electronic health initiatives that are modernizing the
way clinicians deliver health care, announced Richard Alvarez, President and
CEO, Canada Health Infoway (Infoway).
    "In the past year, we've seen tremendous growth in the number of
electronic health record initiatives that are delivering enhanced patient
care, shorter wait times and a more productive health care system for
Canadians," said Alvarez, who recently released Infoway's annual report.
"While this growth is encouraging, momentum must be maintained so we can
capitalize on the efficiencies generated through electronic health initiatives
as our population continues to age and grow."
    In 2006-07, Infoway approved investments of $518.9 million in EHR
initiatives across Canada, surpassing its target of $335 million. The
digitization of diagnostic imaging, Drug and Laboratory Information Systems
projects and the interoperable electronic health record made significant
progress.
    With 227 projects complete or underway across Canada, Infoway and its
partners are investing in modern health information systems that are
uncovering efficiencies in healthcare settings across Canada. The result is
better patient care and outcomes, reduced wait times and cost savings.
    Infoway's plan for further electronic health progress is outlined in 2015
- Advancing Canada's next generation of health care, its long-term strategic
vision document. The document is available at www.infoway-inforoute.ca.

    Infoway is a federally-funded, not-for-profit organization that is
leading the development and implementation of electronic health projects
across Canada. Infoway works with provinces and territories to invest in
electronic health projects, which support safer, more efficient healthcare
delivery. Fully respecting patient confidentiality, these private and secure
systems provide health care professionals with immediate access to complete
and accurate patient information, enabling better decisions about diagnosis
and treatment. The result is a sustainable health care system offering
improved quality, accessibility, productivity and cost savings.


    
    Backgrounder

                         About Canada Health Infoway
    

    Created in 2001, Canada Health Infoway (Infoway) is a federally-funded,
not-for-profit organization that is leading the development of electronic
health records across Canada. Infoway works with the provinces and territories
to develop electronic health records, which support a safer, more efficient
healthcare system.
    Infoway is a strategic investor and architects of a common, pan-Canadian
framework of electronic health record systems where best practices and
successful projects in one region can be shared or replicated in another.
Infoway oversees the development of Canadian standards, while the provinces
and territories implement and operate the system.
    Fully respecting patient confidentiality, these private and secure
records are increasingly providing authorized healthcare professionals with
immediate access to complete and accurate patient information, enabling better
and quicker decisions about diagnosis and treatment.
    The result will be a sustainable healthcare system offering improved
quality, accessibility, productivity and cost savings.
    Infoway is a corporation governed by an independent board of directors
whose members are Canada's 14 provincial and territorial Deputy Ministers of
Health.


    
    Backgrounder

            Electronic Health Records - Investments Across Canada

    The future of health care in Canada is evolving. Implementation of
electronic health records across Canada is creating unprecedented efficiencies
throughout our health care system.

    Benefits include:

    -  Reduced wait times
    -  Increased patient participation in health care
    -  More efficient chronic disease management
    -  Improved access to care in remote and rural communities
    -  Fewer adverse drug interactions
    -  Better prescribing practices
    

    Infoway invests in the development of information systems that store
individual patient information (i.e. laboratory test results, prescription
drug history, diagnostic imaging). Data from each of these systems will
eventually be fed into the interoperable electronic health record system so
authorized health care providers from across Canada can quickly access this
information.
    Below is a summary of each investment area. A total of 227 such projects
have been completed or are underway across Canada:

    Telehealth: Patients from Yellowknife, who once might have travelled more
than 1,500 kilometres to Edmonton for a consultation with a specialist can now
access specialized care close to home. Telehealth links patients in small,
remote locations with health care resources that are more common to urban
centres.

    Innovation and Adoption Infoway's Innovation and Adoption investment
program supports innovation in clinical practice, with the goal of sharing
successes so they can be replicated to benefit more patients in other
settings.
    For instance, cancer patients in Ontario are benefiting from e-health
with an innovative system that allows physicians to directly prescribe complex
chemotherapy and related drugs by computer. This helps minimize harmful
adverse medical events that can be caused by incorrect handwriting
interpretations and dosage calculations. Cancer-specific systems like these
have proven to catch 48 per cent of ordering-related errors, and 23 per cent
of transcription-related errors. Other jurisdictions are now looking to
include similar systems as part of their own cancer management strategy.

    Drug Information Systems: In Prince Edward Island and Ontario, physicians
and nurses can instantly retrieve the complete medication profile of seniors
who arrive at any hospital emergency room. As a result, there are fewer
adverse drug interaction, which lead to increased patient safety and fewer
hospital admissions. The health care system benefits through increased
capacity and a more efficient use of resources.

    Public Health Surveillance: British Columbia is leading the development
of Canada's new Public Health Surveillance (PHS) system, scheduled for
completion in 2008. Effective tracking of those who have had close contact
with individuals infected with a communicable disease like SARS is critical to
containing and stopping its spread. This project will provide public health
officials with an efficient way to track the spread of infection so
containment measures can be put in place swiftly.

    Diagnostic Imaging Systems: In Quebec, digital storage and retrieval of
diagnostic imaging (x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, ultrasounds) is improving
productivity by eliminating the use of inefficient and bulky film
repositories. It also allows any authorized specialist to instantly view and
share images, and to easily consult with colleagues from across Canada. An
added benefit: the program is lowering the cost of diagnostic imaging from an
average of $30 per image four years ago to $12 per image today. These cost
efficiencies are fostering quick national implementation. Infoway's goal is
for 95 per cent of all hospital-based diagnostic imaging tests to be filmless
by 2010.

    Laboratory Information Systems: Laboratory test results are critical
factors in patient diagnosis and a vital part of a patient's electronic health
record (EHR). Many patients have tests done in different health care provider
locations. For instance, a set of blood tests might be done for an annual
physical, then another might be ordered when a specialist is consulted. Often,
these tests are duplicated when a patient sees a different physician since
on-line sharing of test results is limited. Lack of test information can slow
diagnosis and access to care and results in unnecessary costs. Infoway's
Laboratory Information System program provides immediate electronic access to
test results to authorized health care professionals, regardless of who
ordered them. Benefits include a reduction in duplicate tests, cost savings to
the health care system and faster access to care.

    Interoperable Electronic Health Record: The interoperable electronic
health record (iEHR) provides a lifetime view of all health services and
encouters with an individual patient. When fully implemented, it will link
clinics, hospitals, pharmacies and other point of care from across Canada with
an integrated, patient-centric health record. It allows clinicians to view and
update vital patient information such as demographics, diagnostic imaging,
drug history, laboratory test results, infectious disease history,
immunization and other relevant health information anywhere, anytime. The iEHR
saves time, money and results in a more coordinated approach to patient care.
By 2010, half of Canadians will have an iEHR.

    Registries: A system to uniquely identify health care providers, patients
and organizations providing care is critical to the success of the electronic
health record solution. Registries are required to ensure such health
information can be shared within a region, a province or nation-wide.
Registries are important building blocks that serve as prerequisites to
delivering the full electronic health record solution within and between
jurisdictions.

    Infostructure: Infoway's infostructure program ensures consistency with
the various electronic health record solutions used across Canada. This will
help ensure electronic health records from different regions or provinces are
compatible with each other - a critical element to the success of the
interoperable electronic health record (iEHR).


    
    Fact Sheet

                   Electronic Health Records - Quick Facts

    9            Number of countries which have implemented (or are planning
                 to implement) a country-wide electronic health record system

    40           Number of dollars (per person) invested in Canada to date
                 for the development of electronic health records

    50           Percentage of Canadians who will still not have a complete
                 electronic health record by 2010 when all of Infoway's seed
                 funding has been invested

    100          Electronic health record coverage (in population percentage)
                 necessary for provinces and territories to achieve their
                 health care renewal objectives

    350          Estimated number of dollars (per person) needed over
                 10 years to complete the job and provide every Canadian with
                 an electronic health record

    37,000       Number of jobs that electronic health record activities
                 will have created in this country by 2010 according to a
                 study by the Conference Board of Canada

    6 billion    Estimated savings (in dollars) that can be realized
                 each year once the complete electronic health record systems
                 are in place
    





For further information:

For further information: Dan Strasbourg, Canada Health Infoway, Tel:
(416) 595-3424, or toll free: (888) 733-6462


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