Canadian eHealth Leadership

One of the topics that I repeatedly hear discussed at just about any gathering related to eHealth in Canada is leadership.  There appears to be a consensus that we lack effective leadership in driving the eHealth leadership.  At the provincial level I know that there are some very capable people moving their piece of the eHealth agenda forward. Yet, for some reason, there is a persistent perception that we lack effective leadership.

A similar situation with regard to lack of national eHealth leadership seems to exist in Australia.  With the very recent resignation of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, there are calls for the new Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, to address this situation.   Proponents of national eHealth leadership in Australia have quoted Dr. Sarah Muttit, formerly with Canada Health Infoway, and now CIO at the Singapore Ministry of Health.  Dr. Muttit  told a an audience at CeBIT:

“Clearly need someone at the helm to influence the decisions … and try to do master IT planning.”

Like Australia, which has the National e-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA), Canada has Canada Health Infoway.  Though their mandates are somewhat different, both bodies are trying to drive a national approach to eHealth and electronic health records.  Neither organization has a mandate for developing and driving a national eHealth policy.  It will be interesting to see whether the change in government in Australia leads to a change either the mandate for NEHTA or the creation of a new entity to drive national eHealth policies, plans, and priorities.


4 responses to “Canadian eHealth Leadership

  1. You make an interesting point Mike. Many people (myself included) have been somewhat critical of the decisions taken by Infoway in the past few years. Some of my criticism was deserved and some was borne out of a frustration with their organizational culture. What I would like to see is a debate on what “son of Infoway” would look like. Do you:

    1)Assign national eHealth policy to Infoway as it stands right now, and provide additional funding?

    2)Create a separate entity standalone entity that handles national eHealth policy, that works in cooperation with Infoway?

    3)Or something entirely different.

    What I would like to see is a more bottom up approach in terms of national eHealth policy/strategy. If our single biggest hurdle to getting the nefarious “EHR” is getting physicians using EMRs as feeder systems, then we need to figure out the policy role of the CMA.

    As usual I have nothing but questions, but in the context of getting the national eHealth system working fully and effectively we need to lay all the cards on the table, and come up with the best solution to our collective challenges.


  2. Leadership in eHealth is a hot topic and I agree that many of the Provincial CIOs are doing an excellent job in moving their projects forward.

    The problem, in my opinion, comes from the this very situation. We have different Provinces implementing different projects and technologies, many of which are home-grown and therefore may not be able to connect with other systems to share information effectively across the care continuum.

    CHI is working diligently to bring a standardized EHR solution to all of Canada but with the disparate agendas of the Provinces this is taking time.

    I agree with Mark’s comment that a bottom up approach might serve as an effective way to accelerate the process. If we can get docs on board using EMRs then EHRs will become less “nefarious” and more friendly.


  3. Where the purpose of eHealth initiatives is actually improvement to patient care/outcomes and support of front line health care providers in delivering that care, it would seem logical to assume that eHealth successes will occur where they are driven from the bottom up. Only the front line of health care is connected to the sense of immediacy of purpose and an actual understanding of what really is and is not likely to have the positive impact in the clinical and acute care space. Trouble may be that most funding flows from the top down, and generally those who pay will be focused on their own priorities and agenda, which in health can often be largely disconnected from the priorities at the front line, and the priorities of actual patients.

  4. Pingback: An international conversation

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