Infoway Response to Manitoba eHealth Story

Further to an earlier blog post regarding possible problems with eHealth projects in Manitoba, I’d like to point out a letter to the editor of the Winnipeg Free Press written by Richard Alvarez, CEO of Canada Health Infoway.  To spare you the task of digging through all the letters to the editor published that same day, I have extracted Mr. Alvarez’s letter:

E-health care

Re: Province’s eHealth push slow, costly (June 29). Your story presents a somewhat unbalanced perspective of what is happening in Manitoba. It inaccurately positions the enhancement and operations of the hospital information system within the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority as part of the province-wide deployment of the electronic health record (EHR) throughout Manitoba. They are, in fact, two separate initiatives.

Hospital information systems exist in almost all hospitals within Manitoba and have for many years. These systems continue to be expanded and enhanced, as is currently the case with the hospital systems within the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

The EHR being created for every resident is a separate initiative. A complete EHR contains six components: laboratory results, medication profiles, diagnostic images, clinical reports, patient and provider registries. Manitoba has already made significant progress towards this initiative.

For example, diagnostic images captured in hospitals, such as X-rays, are almost entirely digital throughout the province, allowing health providers to instantly share images with colleagues at the other end of the province. This helps reduce the need to transfer patients to larger centres. Components of two important registries are now in place and operating. Provider registries in place identify the authorized health professionals accessing and creating information in a patient’s EHR, and the client registries ensure each patient has a unique record. It is my understanding that complete patient laboratory and medication profiles will soon be available in a private and secure manner to authorized clinicians throughout the province.

This is an ambitious undertaking that will transform health care in Manitoba. While this effort requires a lot of work, resources, patience and time, its value is unquestionable. A better-informed health system will lead to increased patient safety, shorter wait times, and a host of efficiencies.

Richard C. Alvarez

Canada Health Infoway

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