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Disease management systems

Western provinces receive $8 million for chronic disease IT

EDMONTON – Canada’s four western provinces will share $8 million in federal funding to implement common data standards and electronic messages for the management of three chronic diseases: diabetes, hypertension and renal failure (or kidney disease).

As the lead jurisdiction, Alberta Health and Wellness will administer the funding until March 31, 2006 under the auspices of the Western Health Information Collaborative (WHIC).

$4 million dollars will support WHIC common project work, and $1 million for each province will support chronic disease management implementation work.

The burden of care for chronic disease on the patient and the healthcare system is significant. Key patient information is often inaccessible, isolated and in non-standard formats. Improvements in chronic disease management will be supported through the development and use of clinical information systems that support the delivery of primary healthcare.

The project’s objective is to create standards for chronic disease data including minimum data sets, information interchange messages and related data definitions, and the capacity to share this data in support of clinical decision making for the primary healthcare team.

WHIC submitted a proposal to the Health Canada Primary Healthcare Transition Fund in January, 2003. The submission was seeking $8 million in funding to support an innovative and sustainable Chronic Disease Management (CDM) Infostructure in the four western provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

WHIC was successful in receiving the requested funding. Project funding is being provided entirely by Health Canada. There is no requirement that the participating provinces provide additional funding.

“Managing chronic diseases such as diabetes has been identified as a priority on Alberta’s health agenda. This federal funding is a welcome and encouraging move,” said Iris Evans, Minister of Alberta Health and Wellness. “Over the long-term, the Chronic Disease Management Infostructure will help us deliver appropriate and coordinated primary healthcare to patients dealing with these diseases as a result of better information at the point of care. It will also help us to identify contributing factors in chronic diseases.”

“Comprehensive patient information is a vital tool for healthcare practitioners, particularly in this time when chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease are on the rise,” said Shirley Bond, BC’s Minister of Health Services. “That is why this Chronic Disease Management Infostructure is so important. It will facilitate the sharing of data between care providers and enhance interdisciplinary care by allowing information to be available to the appropriate care providers – at the right time and in the right place.”

“With our unique, diverse population, the management of chronic diseases like diabetes continues to be a priority in Saskatchewan,” says Saskatchewan Health Minister, John Nilson. “We appreciate the federal commitment to this project and look forward to the implementation of the Chronic Disease Management Infostructure. Improved access to health information leads to better chronic care management, a key component in achieving our Action Plan for Saskatchewan Healthcare goal of expanding primary healthcare across Saskatchewan.”

“Chronic diseases cost the Canadian economy billions of dollars every year,” said Theresa Oswald, Minister of Healthy Living for Manitoba. “Through these kinds of federal-provincial partnerships, the provinces are able to continue to improve access to integrated, effective and affordable primary healthcare and support individuals and families as they work to stay healthy.”

The Western Health Information Collaborative (WHIC) mandate is to explore collaborative opportunities regarding health infostructure initiatives and support strategic directions for health infostructure at the national level.

Meeting the complex needs of patients with chronic disease is a great challenge facing healthcare providers. Common data sets and definitions facilitate the sharing of information to support clinical decisions by primary healthcare teams.

The benefits of working towards a chronic disease management solution through a multi-jurisdictional collaboration will lead to benefits not achievable independently. Developing a clearer understanding of the common issues that are faced across the provinces improves the collective knowledge base from which to build a sustainable, successful infostructure solution.

The common project work includes activities to define data standards around the three chronic diseases – diabetes, hypertension and renal failure.

Implementation Alberta: Calgary Health Region and Capital Health have been selected as the initial implementation sites within Alberta. These sites were selected because they were already in the process of implementing the same computer systems to support chronic disease management when this project commenced. The focus of Alberta implementation activities will be to ensure the systems are compliant with the common standards.

Implementation British Columbia: British Columbia has developed a unique chronic disease management software application, which is being used by practitioners, through support from Health Canada’s Primary Healthcare Transition Fund. Vancouver Island Health Authority and Northern Health have been selected as proposed test sites, with subsequent implementation province-wide.

Implementation Manitoba: The sharing of relevant clinical information by a multi-disciplinary healthcare team is critical to successful management of chronic disease. Manitoba is in the final stages of selecting a clinical site for this project and will engage the regions and primary healthcare providers in discussions to identify detailed business requirements. This work will inform product development/acquisition and implementation.

Implementation Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan Health continues to work with health regions to prepare for the implementation phase.