eHealth Ontario moves to restore public's trust

TORONTO, Oct. 7 /CNW/ - eHealth Ontario today pledged that the agency will regain the public's trust by delivering concrete results and ensuring that the issues of procurement and governance reported by the Auditor General will not be repeated.

"In the agency's eagerness to demonstrate results quickly, the organization fell short in meeting its obligations," said Rob Devitt, Interim CEO. "We understand that public expectations have not been met and apologize to taxpayers for this failing."

While the Auditor General's report highlights past practices of eHealth Ontario, it also acknowledges some of the very important steps that the agency has taken to strengthen governance and accountability, including:

    
    -  Implementing rigourous procurement rules;
    -  Strengthening oversight;
    -  Ensuring appropriate controls are in place;
    -  Enhancing business planning; and
    -  Ensuring mechanisms are in place to better assess deliverables
    

"I have been impressed by the commitment and dedication demonstrated by the board and staff of eHealth Ontario to get the house in order," said Mr. Devitt. "Restoring public trust will not be easy. But we seek to regain public trust one step at a time, not by what we say, but by what we do and how we do it."

The attached backgrounder contains additional information on eHealth Ontario, the changes that have been made in recent months and the agency's accomplishments. It also contains information on network usage.

    
                                 BACKGROUNDER

    About eHealth Ontario

    -  eHealth Ontario was created on September 29, 2008 as a result of a
       merger between Smart Systems for Health Agency and the Ministry of
       Health and Long-Term Care's e-Health Program.

    -  The agency's mandate is to play the leading role in harnessing
       technology and innovation to improve patient care, safety, and access
       in support of the government's ehealth agenda.

    -  The provincial government has committed approximately $2 billion over
       the next three years to ehealth initiatives.

    -  eHealth Ontario has eight office locations across the GTA.

    -  The agency currently has a total workforce of 944 positions of which
       607 are full-time employees.

    -  As of September 30, 2009 eHealth Ontario had 286 consultants (234 of
       which were from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's e-Health
       program) In the next two months the agency will bring the total
       consultant base down to 234 consultants, all of which will have been
       competitively tendered. By the end of the fiscal year, March 31, 2010
       the total consultant number will be 160.

    -  Since June 1, 2009, 128 underutilized circuits have been closed on the
       network, realizing an annual savings of about $770,000.


                                 BACKGROUNDER

    Changes made at eHealth Ontario since June 2009

    -  Notice was issued to all eHealth Ontario staff and vendors regarding
       the need to eliminate unnecessary expenditures;

    -  Finance division began applying an additional level of scrutiny to all
       payments and strengthened budgeting processes and financial management
       practices;

    -  In addition to following the government's new procurement directive,
       eHealth Ontario has enhanced its procurement function;

    -  Planned or pending procurements are scrutinized to ensure they are in
       compliance with procurement rules before they are executed;

    -  Board approved new procurement directive as well as a new delegation
       of authority policy;

    -  The agency is in compliance with the Government of Ontario's "Travel,
       Expenses & Hospitality Directive"; and

    -  All staff will be required to attend training and information sessions
       related to the new policies.


                                 BACKGROUNDER

    Accomplishments

    -  Developed and published the province's first ehealth strategy (2009 -
       2012) with extensive input from stakeholders, delivery partners and
       staff;

    -  Issued a request for qualifications to identify companies that are
       qualified to bid on the contract to develop the diabetes registry;

    -  Enabled the integration of Ontario's Diagnostic Imaging and Picture
       Archiving Communication Systems (DI/PACS) which established common
       repositories for sharing information across the healthcare system;

    -  Used innovative electronic medication prescribing to prevent adverse
       drug interactions in Sault Ste. Marie and the Georgian Bay area;

    -  Enabled neurosurgeons to remotely review head trauma images to make
       critical decisions about emergency patients - saving lives, lessening
       family distress and avoiding costly transfers;

    -  By mining data, eHealth Ontario has identified the diabetes care gap;
       and

    -  Significant progress has been made towards the development of
       province-wide client and provider registry identity systems that will
       serve as a key part of ensuring security of the ehealth system.


                                 BACKGROUNDER

    Network - Value for money

    There has been criticism that money has been spent on ehealth initiatives,
such as network infrastructure, with nothing to show for it. This backgrounder
illustrates the health care systems that have been using our network,
originally created by SSHA, since 2003.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Year  Initiative                       Usage details
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2003  Integrated Public Health         Accessed by 36 Public Health Units
          Information System (iPHIS)       and MOHLTC
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2004  Ontario Public Health Portal     Accessed by Public Health workers
                                           province-wide
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2005  Drug Profile Viewer (DPV)        200+ Ontario hospitals with over
                                           6500 registered users
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2006  Important Health Notice          Electronic distribution of
          Publication Facility             important health information
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2006  Ontario Telemedicine Network     345 sites, 22,000 clinical
                                           encounters
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2006  LHIN shared services             14 LHINS (electronic mail service,
          organization                     financial application hosting)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2006  Electronic Children's Health     100 hospitals, six tertiary care
          Network (eCHN)                   centres, 14 CCACs and 20 child
                                           treatment centres
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2006  Multi site EMR system access     Physicians share EMR info and
                                           connect remotely
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2006  OntarioMD Portal                 Used by registered physicians
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2006  Ontario Wait Times Information   800+ surgeons on the eHealth
          System and Enterprise Master     Ontario network
          Patient Index
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2007  Ontario Case Costing Initiative  Used 45+ hospitals across the
                                           province
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2007  Electronic Medical Record        Physicians access EMRs on
          Application Service Provider     Application Service Provider
                                           service
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2007  MOHLTC Health Network            3100+ Ontario pharmacies 6,000+
          System (HNS)                     claims submitted daily
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2008  MOHLTC eReferral                 Used by two hospitals and six
                                           CCACs
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2008  Resource Matching & eReferral    Provincial rollout commencing
          (RM&R)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2008  Diagnostic Imaging Archival and  99 hospital sites across four
          Retrieval                        LHINs
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2008  Community Care Access Centre     42 CCAC & LT Care facilities
                                           access three shared apps
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2008  Oral Health Information          Accessed by 500+ program dental
          Support System                   professionals
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2008  Hospital diagnostic imaging      39 hospital sites across three
          repository service (HDIRS)       LHINs
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2008  Integrated birth registration    Ontario hospital user
                                           registration / authentication
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2008  Ontario Lab Information System   In seven hospitals and large
                                           community labs. Contains greater
                                           than 50 per cent of Ontario's lab
                                           test results
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2009  Patient Results Online Central   Pilot in Central LHIN
          LHIN
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2009  Enterprise Neurological Image    56 of 93 sites (60 per cent)
          Transfer System (ENITS)          rolled out
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    

SOURCE eHealth Ontario

For further information: For further information: Heather Brown, Communications Advisor, eHealth Ontario, (416) 586-4238, heather.brown@ehealthontario.on.ca

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