Tag Archives: Manitoba eHealth

Engaging health IT vendors

Although my viewpoint is probably somewhat biased given my day job with a heath IT vendor, I hold the firm conviction that the health IT vendors have an important and valuable role to play in helping shape local, regional, provincial, and national health IT plans.   The extent to which organizations across Canada consult with vendors outside the formal procurement process varies considerably, though I am noting a gradual trend towards more meaningful engagement.

A number of healthcare IT organizations including Canada Health Infoway, Manitoba eHealth, and the Chief Health Information Officer’s office at the  Nova Scotia Department of Health, for example, hold periodic briefing sessions.   In addition, ITAC Health works with organizations such as eHealth Ontario to organize vendor information sessions.

As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, one of the more innovative organizations with respect to vendor engagement is the South West LHIN.  Shortly after joining the organization, Glenn Lanteigne, the LHIN CIO, instituted what he calls “Vendor Fridays”.  These 2 to 3 hour sessions provide an opportunity for vendors to offer insight into how their products and services can help the LHIN achieve its strategic objectives.  Equally important, these sessions provide a forum for vendors to chat with LHIN IT staff and interested provider stakeholders about their needs.

Not content with the information flow that “Vendor Fridays” has engendered, the South West LHIN recently invited vendors to participate in a “Consumer eHealth Innovation Day”.   This “public – private sector” workshop is the first of five workshops designed, in Glenn’s words, to “address real-life LHIN issues and explore how these types of solutions can help and how“.   Other topic areas that will be addressed in future workshops align with the LHIN eHealth strategy.  These areas include Capacity Management, Decision Support, Quality, and the Electronic Health Record.

The Consumer eHealth Innovation workshop will take place on Thursday, June 30th, at the University of Western Ontario’s Research Park Convention Centre.  You can find more details here or by calling 519-640-2592 or emailing Jordan.lange@LHINS.ON.CA.

What do you think of the South West LHIN’s efforts to meaningful engage health IT vendors?  Do you have any suggestions for how healthcare organizations can meaningfully engage health IT vendors?




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

More Negative eHealth News?

An article in today’s Winnipeg Free Press claims that “soaring costs, scarce resources and recurring system failures are stunting the progress of Manitoba’s electronic health systems”.  The article states that documents obtained through freedom of information requests “show the project could cost an extra $350 million and take up to 20 years to complete”.

Roger Girard, the CIO of Manitoba eHealth, is quoted extensively in the article.  Mr. Girard is one of Canada’s eHealth pioneers and has extensive experience implementing eHealth systems.   In the article he states that “No one is happy with the timelines, but I for one don’t believe at this particular time we could could any faster.”

Mr. Girard took on a huge challenge when he stepped up to the CIO role.  Manitoba had under invested in healthcare IT for many years and was lagging many other provinces in the use of IT in healthcare services delivery.   Changing this situation is a significant undertaking whose magnitude should not be underestimated.


Importance of transparency in HIT discussions

The US gov’t is investing heavily in Health IT as part of a larger economic stimulus package.  As noted in a recemt Federal News Radio article, a hallmark of the U.S. HIT spending initiative is an open and transparent process that seeks to engage all stakeholders. Brian Ahier, a prolific twitter and blogger, notes in the article that “the ONC has been really engaged with the health care community, soliciting comments and responding to people’s questions” and “We have to have interoperability, so we have to pull together a collaborative effort, and in order to do that, it’s going to take transparency.”

Are Canadian eHealth agencies such Infoway, Manitoba eHealth, and eHealth Ontario taking note of the U.S. approach? Will we drr more openness and transparency in the way they engage the various stakeholder communities?  I hope that Dr. Blumenthal talks about the U.S. approach when he speaks to the eHealth 2010 delegates in Vancouver later this month.


Use of Social Media U.S. Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology

I have posted lately about the use of social media and other Internet technologies by Ontario LHINs to engage and inform their communities.  I noticed today that the US. Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology has added Twitter to their arsenal of tools for communicating and engaging various stakeholder communities.


Where are Canadian eHealth / healthcare IT organizations in their use of social media?  Infoway?  eHealth Ontario?  Manitoba eHealth?