Infoway given ‘thumbs up’ at mid-term
MONTREAL – A mid-term assessment of Canada Health Infoway’s performance
has given the agency a favourable review, concluding that the publicly
funded organization has had a positive impact on the development of
interoperable electronic health records in Canada.
The report, prepared by Ottawa-based BMB Consulting Services, states
that progress has been made across Canada that “would not have been
achieved without Infoway.”
Among the nine investment programs currently being addressed by Infoway,
the only significant area of concern raised by BMB Consulting was in
telehealth, where it was found that progress has been slow.
However, it was noted that telehealth presented challenges over and
above those experienced in other areas, including regulations for the
telehealth portfolio that have prevented the funding formula to be
raised from 50/50 to 75/25, as it has in other programs.
Nevertheless, BMB Consulting acknowledged that Infoway has made recent
improvements in telehealth –- for example, expert staff members have
been hired, and 35 projects (in 11 of Canada’s 13 jurisdictions) had
been given the go-ahead as of October, 2005.
BMB Consulting concluded that Infoway appears to be on track with its
goal of an Electronic Health Record for 50 percent of the population by
the end of 2009. As of November 2005, 4 percent of the Canadian
population had access to an iEHR; projects affecting a further 13
percent were in expected to be completed by 2007-2008; and 13 percent
more were in the planning stages, for a total of 30 percent.
The report’s purpose was to evaluate Infoway’s progress in line with its
mission to accelerate the development of the electronic health record
across Canada. Electronic health records, which help healthcare
professionals make more informed decisions, are seen as a pillar of
“The report is independent confirmation that Infoway is making real
progress in achieving its mandate and in providing value to Canadians,”
said Arnold Steinberg, Infoway’s Board Chair.
The evaluation credits the organization with the following achievements:
• Demonstrating that there is a technical blueprint for pan-Canadian
solutions and then focusing on the business and people aspects of
technology through investments in change management and communications;
• Developing a portfolio management approach through investment
strategies and programs, rather than focusing on individual projects;
• Building stronger relationships and collaboration with jurisdictions
through mechanisms such as three-year jurisdictional plans and the CIO
Forum (quarterly meetings with federal, provincial and territorial Chief
• Engaging other stakeholders such as vendors and healthcare
professionals’ associations more directly and proactively;
• Placing priority on investment in benefits measurement and adoption of
technology by healthcare professionals; and
• Streamlining business processes.
The report explains that although progress in the Telehealth area has
been slower, most stakeholders feel that Infoway has now adopted
appropriate Telehealth strategies and is gaining momentum in this area.
Infoway was required to have a performance evaluation carried out in
2006, after five years of operation, according to its Funding Agreement
with the Government of Canada. One of the conclusions of the report was
that “Infoway, through its corporate plans and then its delivery and
reporting against those plans, has achieved progress for each of the
Funding Agreement outcomes related to EHR.”
In preparation for the report, BMB, which was selected through a
competitive bid process, gathered information from a number of existing
internal and external planning and reporting documents and conducted 51
interviews in the following categories: Deputy Ministers of Health,
Infoway’s Board of Directors, Chief Information Officers in
jurisdictions, jurisdictional project leads, healthcare associations,
industry associations and technology vendors and Infoway management.
“This positive momentum towards the development of a pan-Canadian
electronic health record speaks to the remarkable efforts of our
federal, provincial and territorial partners and the solid collaboration
of healthcare professionals, technology vendors and other key
supporters. Without them, none of this would have been possible,” said
Richard Alvarez, Infoway’s President and CEO.
To view the full report, please visit Infoway’s website at
Infoway is an independent not-for-profit organization that invests with
public sector partners across Canada to implement and reuse compatible
health information systems which support a safer, more efficient
healthcare system. These systems provide healthcare professionals with
rapid access to complete and accurate patient information, enabling
better decisions about treatment and diagnosis. The result is a
sustainable, healthcare system offering improved quality, accessibility