Tag Archives: OCRI

Did the eHealth Ontario 2015 Blueprint See Its Shadow Today?

Since I often leave for work before the sun rises in the winter, I didn’t hear whether the groundhog saw his shadow today until after I sat at my desk. In fact, I didn’t hear about it so much as I read about it on twitter. Realizing that it was Feb 2nd, I pondered whether the eHealth Ontario 2015 blueprint document, like the groundhog, had made an appearance.  If it did it must have seen its shadow and scurried back in its burrow because I can’t seem to find it anywhere!

Last year I attended several public forums at which senior eHealth Ontario executives spoke about the new eHealth Ontario 2015 blueprint. The first event was an ITAC Health sponsored vendor forum at which Fariba Rawhani walked a packed room through a detailed overview of the blueprint; you can read my blog post on this event here. At the end of her presentation Ms. Rawhani promised that we would see a 100+ page detailed blueprint document “real soon”.

In early October I co-chaired an OCRI sponsored one-day eHealth partnership and innovation forum in Ottawa at which Ms. Rawhani once again spoke about the blueprint and once again promised a more detailed document would be released “real soon”. Thinking that perhaps the delay was imposed by events outside Ms. Rawhani’s control, I publicly asked Greg Reed when the blueprint document might be released when he spoke at an eHealthAchieve breakfast in early November. His initial answer was – wait for it – “real soon!” He then qualified his answer with “by the end of the month”. Perhaps I should have asked him “which month?” or “what year?”.

So, now it is 2012 and Ican only find one reference to the blueprint on eHealth Ontario’s web site. It is a copy of a one-page blueprint diagram on the vendor relations page.

Unlike the proverbial groundhog, no one seems to know what has happened to the eHealth Ontario 2015 blueprint document.  Given that lack of a strategy beyond 2012 was a major criticism leveled by the Auditor General more than two years ago, I am left to wonder why there hasn’t been more urgency given to releasing the blueprint document.



OCRI IT in Healthcare – Secure Surveillance for Improving Public Health

Looking a little like Dr. Albert Einstein on a good hair day, Dr. Khaled El Emam is a curious cross between a scientist and an entrepreneur who also happens to be one of the world’s leading authorities on the privacy of personal health information.  What he knows about how identify specific individuals in supposedly anonymous data sets is both impressive and downright scary at the same time.

Dr. El Emam will speaking at the monthly OCRI IT in Healthcare lunch event on Friday, January 20th.  Dr. El Emam will be talking about conduct surveillance of individuals for public health purposes while providing strong privacy guarantees.    This secondary use of information collected to treat individual has considerable value and is used for various purposes such as monitoring for infection or disease outbreaks, evaluating the effectiveness of vaccines, drugs, and medical devices, and detecting fraud or abuse.

In addition to getting to hear what I know will be an informative talk you will also have the opportunity to network with others in the Ottawa area with an interest in the application of IT in the health sector.

More details here.


P.S. In the interest of full disclosure I co-chair the program committee.


Calling Ottawa health IT professionals, healthcare professionals, and IT vendors

As some of you may now, I chair the program committee for the OCRI IT in Healthcare speaker series.   Each month we  host informative speakers who share their insights and experience on topics of interest to healthcare providers, health IT professionals, and IT vendors.

On October 5th, we are teaming with COACH, the voice of Canada’s health IT professionals, to host a special one-day conference that brings the local health and IT communities to explore ways that these two communities can work together to develop innovative health IT solutions.   This unique event will focus on practical and affordable applications of health IT that address today’s healthcare challenges and offer near-term benefits.

Whether you have an idea for a new application that you think will benefit the local health sector or  want to share your challenges with people who can offer a fresh perspective, please join us on October 5th.     I look forward to seeing you there.

You can find more details here.



OCRI, the voice of the Ottawa R&D community and COACH, Canada’s health informatics professions, have joined forces to host a special one-day event

OCRI IT in Healthcare: Canada Health Infoway Update

Want to learn more about what is happening at Canada Health Infoway and, perhaps more importantly, ask questions to an Infoway executive?  If you live in the Ottawa area, you have an opportunity to do so at the monthly OCRI IT in Healthcare seminar on May 25th.  Our guest this month is Shelagh Maloney, Executive Director, External Liaison, Consumer Health and Innovation.  Ms. Maloney will provide an update on the progress of the pan-Canadian electronic health record implementation. You can more details about this event here.

The OCRI IT in Healthcare seminar series facilitates the exposure and exchange of experiences and ideas.  The seminars are targeted at health care providers, policymakers, IT entrepreneurs, technology developers, and students. The focus is on technologies that have actually been implemented; IT infrastructure development efforts and their costs/benefits; technology adoption experiences; and new public initiatives to support IT in health care. Speakers represent a cross-section from the life sciences community including vendors and developers of technology, researchers, and public officials.


Primary Care as an Example of Complex Adaptive Systems – Presentation by Dr. Clare Liddy

Earlier this month I wrote a blog post promoting a presentation by Dr. Clare Liddy at the monthly OCRI IT in Healthcare lunch event series.  As I was unable to attend the session, Mary Van Buren, a colleague and member of the OCRI IT in Healthcare event series organizing committee, graciously agreed to prepare a synopsis of Dr. Liddy’s presentation.  Thanks, Mary.


Primary Care = Complex Adaptive System

Dr. Clare Liddy introduced this concept as an explanation for some of the challenges facing vendors in working with physicians and within the primary care environment.  She was invited to speak as part of OCRI’s Health IT luncheon series, designed to highlight the many local health-IT initiatives and successes taking place here in Ottawa.  A family physician, Dr. Liddy also has a Masters in Epidemiology from the University of London; is the lead on the IDOCC project, a  heart disease initiative; and is the primary care lead in the Champlain region for Diabetes.  You may also take some comfort, as I did, that even a highly-regarded and qualified physician such as Dr. Liddy, working from within the system, encountered some difficulties in getting adoption of a new tool she and a team developed.  See if these characteristics of a complex adaptive system that she described sound familiar to you:

  • Non-linear and dynamic
  • Independent agents
  • Intelligent agents who adapt/learn leading to self organization
  • No single point of control

And now layer in the various practice cultures that drive everything from decision-making to patient care:

  • Quality centric: favour patient satisfaction surveys
  • Business oriented: favour benchmarking
  • Collegiate: informal peer review
  • Autonomous:  self-reflection
  • Information:  favour electronic data systems and evidence-based data

While Clinical information systems is a key pillar in the chronic care model and provinces have created incentives for physician adoption of e-solutions, IT in healthcare remains woefully behind other countries.  According to one of the data points Dr. LIddy shared from the 2009 Commonwealth and International Survey of primary care physicians, 37% of Canadian physicians are using electronic medical records, putting us in last place.  Netherlands has 99% and is in first place, while the US is in second last place, but still well ahead of Canada at 46%.

That is why it is so encouraging to hear from physicians like Clare Liddy who are championing the adoption of new solutions to improve the health of their patients.   It is no secret that the aging demographics combined with high consumer expectations of good quality of life will place a high toll on health care both in terms of human and financial resources.

One of the issues she raised is the lack of connectivity between primary care and hospitals, and among physicians.  It still surprises me that faxes are a preferred method of communication by physicians.  I can’t tell you the last time I received or sent a fax!

Another challenge is that of the 83 practices involved in her project, about half had an EMR and half had paper records.  And among those with EMRs, there were 10 different versions being used.  This prevented the ability to pull data seamlessly.  Instead a researcher was required to go to each practice, look through paper records or view the records online and compile the data manually.  Not exactly the fast lane!

The good news is that there is wide-spread recognition of this lack of inter-connectivity and Ontario is making some progress.  As reported recently in Canadian HealthCare Technology, Ontario   has launched its Clinical Document Specification (CDS) initiative  “We are currently developing the standards-based CDS to allow clinical documents to be shared electronically between hospitals, physicians, Community Care Access Centres (CCACs) and other health care providers,” says Grant Gillis, Director, eHealth Standards.

Bringing new solutions to the primary care community can be challenging.  The opportunity is to allow for  “mass customization” as each physician, practice or institution appears to want tailored e-health solutions, yet on an affordable basis.  This is indeed the promise of the new collaborative tools- from the internet, to wikis, to social networks – solutions can be brought not just to the masses, but can extend out to the long tail.

I’d love to hear about  your successes!

Mary Van Buren


Ottawa Physician To Speak on Complexities of Connecting to the Primary Care Doctors in the Community

In addition to writing this blog (which I plan to resume a more active publication schedule in the near future) and two magazine columns, I also volunteer my time helping several organizations promote increased use of IT in healthcare.  One such activity is chairing the Program Committee for the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI) monthly IT in Healthcare event series.  Each month we host a different speaker who addresses an interesting and topical aspect of healthcare IT.

This month we are thrilled to have a physician as our speaker.  Dr. Clare Liddy is a family physician and Clinician Investigator with the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Ottawa.  Dr. Liddy’s current projects include:

  • Improving the delivery of cardiovascular care in family practices (IDOCC project)
  • Implementation of regional self-management programs for patients with chronic diseases (CDSM project).
  • An e-consultation project.

For readers in the Ottawa area, please join us on February 9th to hear more about these projects.   You can find more details here.