Canadian eHealth Policy

In his first article on the Canadian eHealth agenda Bill Pascal suggested that “we need to resolve many policy issues”.  I am going to go further and state that we need to create an organization at the national level charged with creating and driving Canadian eHealth policy.  Many other countries, including the US, have created such an organization and their leaders are providing critical leadership and visibility with respect to their country’s eHealth agenda.  While Infoway is a vital and important component of the Canadian eHealth landscape, it was not intended to be a policy organization.

What do other people think?  How do we best drive resolving the many policy issues associated with eHealth in Canada. What, in your opinion, are the key policy issues that need to be resolved?



2 responses to “Canadian eHealth Policy

  1. As was the case the creation of Infoway, we need to make sure the provinces have a majority voice on any kind of eHealth policy body. My initial thoughts are to create the “Son of Infoway”, and incorporate all the good ideas and learn from any mistakes made along the way. To make it successful, I would start with the following premise:

    1) BOD has to made up of the ADMs in each Province. This was a brilliant move when Infoway was first set up. Have all the parties who feel potentially threatened with a stake at the table.

    Who else should get a seat:

    A) I would assume other parties, such as the CMA, would want a seat.

    B) How would the public interact with this organization. As much as we need the provinces, docs and others from the provider side, we as a country, do not often listen to the patients. I think involving the public would a) get good ideas from them on issues surrounding healthcare delivery and b) have a stake in the overall process. We always talk about “patient-centric” this and that, but we never really do anything about it.

    C) What about the vendors of eHealth tech? How do we get them really involved in the process? If involved what would it look like?

    How do we allow these other stakeholder to participate in more than a rubber stamp fashion. Should it be advisory committees (with heaven forbid) with funding and authority?

    Some of my other thoughts include:

    2) Establish some clear guidelines and mandate. Is this org going to offer advice, have legislative powers of some kind, or some kind of mixed mandate and powers.

    3) If this org has actual real powers, can this policy organization overrule a province when it disagrees with the organization? ie Nothwithstanding clause in the constitution.

    4) How would it be funded? I would think 50% from the provinces and 50% from the feds. This org would have an open mandate, with periods of lots of activity followed by periods of limited activity, and as such would need to fix the issue faced by Infoway…big amounts of funding followed by uncertainty on future funding.


  2. After posting I had another thought about my assumptions. I think a fundamental issue will revolve around eHealth Policy and Infoway. The options that I see include:

    Option 1: Give the eHealth Policy mandate to Infoway, providing them the long term funding to fulfill this additional mandate. The free market capitalist in me says to do this because, I as a taxpayer don’t want to create yet another money sucking govt corp.

    Option 2 – Create a separate eHealth Policy Organization and have it subsume Infoway. That way you have a policy and funding vehicle all wrapped up into one. This would eliminate competing agenda for what is Option 3.

    Option 3 – Create a standalone eHealth policy organization that does not answer to Infoway, but directly to Health Canada. This would be a tough one to pull off. Having lived most of my life outside of Ottawa, I know what happens when you two govt depts/orgs that have somewhat overlapping jurisdictions and agendas…ugly turf wars. If you were to create a standalone organization, there would have to be some kind of detailed delineation of authority between Infoway and the “Son of Infoway”. What would happen if the Son proposed an eHealth policy that didn’t agree with Infoway’s vision. Who resolves this conflict. What a mess that could be.

    Is there an option 4 that I’m missing?


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