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Government & policy

Infoway to cover 75 percent of healthcare I.T. project costs

TORONTO – Canada Health Infoway president and CEO Richard Alvarez (pictured at left) announced the organization will increase its funding ratio to cover 75% of the costs of projects in which it invests, with the remaining 25% coming from healthcare partners. Until now, the ratio has been 50/50.

Alvarez, who oversees a $1.2 billion funding envelope at Infoway, noted the increase would take effect this year. He made the announcement during an address at the recent e-Health 2005 conference in early May.

He shared the podium with Richard Granger, head of the United Kingdom’s ?6 billion healthcare IT program (it’s currently being rolled out in England by the National Health Service), and Dr. Louise Liang, senior vice president for Kaiser Permanente in the United States, a non-profit HMO that’s in the midst of a $3 billion computerization effort.

Alvarez observed that, for its part, Infoway has approved $321 million worth of projects, and expects a total of $639 million will receive the green light by the end of the 2005-2006 fiscal year.

However, he also said that projects will not receive cash from Infoway until they achieve pre-determined milestones, a method known as ‘gated’ funding. “If you deliver, we give you the money,” said Alvarez.

Infoway’s goal is to have 50% of the Canadian population using electronic health records by 2009.

However, whether it meets this target depends on whether key projects are implemented on time.

Healthcare analysts have pointed out that meeting timelines are not the only criteria that must be taken into account. To justify the investments, systems must also work as expected, and healthcare providers and patients must accept the new equipment and methods and make use of them.

From its $1.2 billion budget, Infoway intends to invest in the following areas:

1  Innovation and adoption ($60 million);
2  Interoperable HER ($175 million);
3  Drug information systems ($185 million);
4  Laboratory information systems ($150 million);
5  Diagnostic imaging systems ($220 million);
6  Public health systems ($100 million);
7  Telehealth ($150 million);
8  Client, provider and location registries ($110 million);
9  Infostructure ($25 million.)