Over the past few days I have been following articles in my local newspaper, the Ottawa Citizen, on the ballooning provincial deficit and the government’s plan to review all provincial spending. I thought to myself “I wonder if any of the eHealth budget will be cut, particularly given all the media attention regarding spending irregularities at the Ontario eHealth agency”. My fears were amplified when I watched the local news last night and they showed clips of “man on the street” interviews asking people what the provincial government should do to reign in spending. The first person interviewed stated that the government should cut spending on eHealth given the $1B that has been wasted to date (the interviewees perspective, not mine). Yikes!
While many members of the mainstream press may be doing a good job at convincing people that eHealth is boondoogle, I was pleased to see an article from the noted Globe and Mail columnist Andre Picard summarizing the highlights of the recently released “For Patients’ Sake” report commissioned by the Saskatchewan government.
As Mr. Picard points out, this report states that one of the areas in which “medicare falls down on the job” is “Lack of electronic health records: Patients hate repeating their medical histories over and over and tests are oft-repeated because of lack of modern records.” If we ever hope to shift from the current “provider-centric” model of patient care to a more “patient centred” model it is absolutely critical that we put modern information systems in place to make patient information available to all healthcare professionals involved in the patient’s care. Failure to do so will, in my view, severely limit our ability to ever achieve patient centred care.