box10.gif (1299 bytes)







Government & policy

Conference Board report emphasizes eHealth leadership

OTTAWA – Canada lags behind other countries in using information and communications technologies (ICT) in the health system, according to a Conference Board of Canada report that provides four steps to a more collaborative approach to implementing ICT.

“The integration and use of information and communications technologies in Canada’s health systems has been hampered by a number of challenges. Despite the potential of ICT to improve health outcomes, enhance system performance, and control and reduce costs for health outcomes, progress has been slow and Canada lags behind its international peers,” said Diana MacKay, Director, Education and Health.

“The slow progress can be attributed to a variety of factors. These include lack of cooperation among jurisdictions and organizations, concerns about privacy and security, and perceptions of financial risks and uncertain health and financial outcomes. The concerns are legitimate, but they do not constitute immovable barriers to implementing ICT.”

An analysis of the most significant barriers reveals that a collaborative leadership approach to health system improvement and innovation is urgently needed in Canada.

The publication, A Call for Collaborative Leadership: Implementing Information and Communications Technologies in Canadian Health Systems, identifies four specific actions that health organizations can take. They are:

• Appoint a champion from the C-suite (CEO, CFO, CIO) who is required and empowered to collaborate with other leaders on cross-jurisdictional and cross-organizational ICT initiatives.

• Allocate between 4% and 5% percent of budgets in healthcare organizations to ICT.

• Convene a national coalition of collaborative leaders who will commit to the principle of linking with other jurisdictions.

• Create a two-tier governance structure to facilitate collaborative leadership and guide ICT-related decision-making, implementation, integration and management.

• The upper tier should consist of a national council on health system ICT that meets regularly to discuss and make decisions on ICT opportunities, priorities, challenges, and general strategies.

• The lower tier should consist of ICT implementation and management committees (created as necessary by the national council) for specific ICT initiatives.

Funding for this report came from the Centre for Health System Design and Management, which brings together senior decision-makers from across Canada and focuses on seeking evidence of what works in healthcare, and how to implement it, despite Canada’s fragmented approach to health system development.

Posted October 21, 2010