Canada Health Infoway
An efficient and effective health care system continues to be a top priority for Canadians.
The implementation of health information systems in Canada, often referred to as electronic health records, is a critical element to achieving this goal by enhancing the safety, quality and efficiency of the health care system. Such systems will not only contribute to reducing waste and duplication within the health system, they will also contribute to preventing adverse drug events, improving the management of chronic disease, improving access to care and boosting productivity.
For the last several years, Canada Health Infoway has been working toward the goal of having electronic health records in place across Canada. Infoway’s actions are already translating into real benefits for patients throughout Canada. For example, in Nova Scotia, the shared diagnostic imaging program provides the delivery of digital images of X-rays, MRIs, CT scans and ultrasounds to authorized health practitioners where and when they are needed. Nationally, Infoway estimates that investments in digital diagnostic imaging technology have already increased productivity to a level equivalent to adding more than 500 radiologists to Canada’s health care system.
Patients in remote northern communities are now connected with health care professionals in urban centres through telehealth—improving their access to care.
Budget 2009 provides Canada Health Infoway with $500 million to support the goal of having 50 per cent of Canadians with an electronic health record by 2010. In addition, this funding will be used to speed up the implementation of electronic medical record systems for physicians and integrated points of service for hospitals, pharmacies, community care facilities and patients. An electronic medical record system allows doctors and other health care providers to chart patient health information using a computer, thereby avoiding duplication of testing and helping to ensure patient safety and effective treatment.
This $500-million investment will not only enhance the safety, quality and efficiency of the health care system, but will also result in a significant positive contribution to Canada’s economy, including the creation of thousands of sustainable, knowledge-based jobs throughout Canada.