Canada Invests in Health IT

In the last three years, the Canadian government has devoted only about $126 million toward health IT through Canada Health Infoway, the non-profit it created for that purpose. This year, however, the investment skyrocketed 56 percent to reach $195 million.

Infoway is a partnership of federal, provincial and territorial governments. Its members are the deputy ministers of health from across Canada. Much of the money is earmarked for electronic health record projects in provinces and territories; Infoway will now cover an average of 75 percent of project costs rather than just 50 percent.

“Many challenges lie ahead, but we are starting to make a real dent with regard to achieving our mission,” said Richard Alvarez, Infoway’s president and CEO. “The projects we’ve started this year, which will be completed over the next couple of years, will go a long way toward meeting our objective of making electronic health records available for 50 percent of the population by the end of 2009.”

In 2004-05, Infoway continued to focus on interoperability, ensuring that different systems can communicate with one another. It began updating the Electronic Health Record Solution (EHRS) Blueprint—which shows how different components of the EHR system can interact with one another—to include privacy and security architecture.

Infoway has investment strategies for all nine of its programs: infostructure, registries, diagnostic imaging, drug information systems, lab information systems, telehealth, health surveillance, interoperable EHR and innovation/adoption. Infoway approves an investment envelope for each program and then commits funds to specific projects in each program area.

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