Delays in federal gov’t funding for Infoway delaying EHR deployment – Infoway

In an article published yesterday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) Richard Alvarez, Infoway President, claims that “the year long-freeze on federal funding has compromised plans to rollout initiatives designed to improve physician uptake of electronic records”.  He further states in the article that “This will do nothing to improve Canada’s status as an international EHR laggard”.

http://www.cmaj.ca/earlyreleases/16feb10-electronic-health-records-initiative-stalled.dtl

Nearly a year ago the federal gov’t committed an additional $500M in funding for Infoway as part of larger stimulus package.  Commenting on the federal government’s delay in meeting this commitment, Mr. Alvarez states in the article “I don’t want to undermine things by saying that the squeaky wheel always gets oil first, but quite frankly when governments are faced with long waits in certain areas for treatment, that becomes a loud noise.  And so, some of the issues that are truly transformational in terms of patient safety, in terms of improving the efficiency, tend to get forgotten.”

I have long been an advocate for continued funding for Canada Health Infoway. What are your views on the matter?  What has been the impact on EHR / eHealth progress in Canada from the delay in Infoway funding?

Mike

2 responses to “Delays in federal gov’t funding for Infoway delaying EHR deployment – Infoway

  1. Whenever I see the terms “Canada Health Infoway and EMR funding” I have to take a deep breath. I have always felt that CHI made a strategic error by focusing on big bang provincial EHR systems, instead of automating the 80% of care that happens at the primary care level. This has lead to provinces being forced to run their own custom EMR programs, that has fragmented any short term chance at a “national” EMR standard or program. I feel for the physicians and the provinces as they have been left in a vacuum, that was not of their making.

    All that being said, I do support any additional funding to help physicians adopt EMR programs, but my main concerns are:

    1) Is $500M enough or will it just perpetuate the existing fragmented market?

    2) Is there any point in trying for a national EMR interop standard? Each province is already setting their own standards.

    3) How much of the $500M will be earmarked for change management. To me this is an elephant in the room. Are we simply going to encourage an additional 10% of physicians to buy an EMR that will not be used properly?

    To me the whole thing boils down to “go big or go home”. $500M does not seem near enough to solve the major challenges to getting primary care automated.

    Mark

  2. While we can argue whether $500M is sufficient, it is not an inconsequential amount and, if spent wisely, can accelerate use and adoption of EMRs. If we can demonstrate progress with the $500M I think that additional funds can be found in future budget allocations.

    Mike

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