box10.gif (1299 bytes)








Canada to work with other nations on HIT issues

TORONTO – Leaders of health information technology (HIT)  initiatives in Canada, the US, Australia and the UK have agreed to collaborate more closely and to pursue common opportunities.

A meeting was held on May 4 and 5 in San Francisco with Richard Alvarez (pictured), President and CEO, Canada Health Infoway (Canada), David Brailer, National Coordinator for Health IT (United States), Richard Granger, Director General of IT, National Health Service (England) and Ian Reinecke, CEO, National eHealth Transition Authority (Australia).

The decision to collaborate more closely came following an in-depth discussion of common themes and goals that could be aligned and experience that could be leveraged on an international scale. Topics discussed included:

• Patient safety and quality improvement needs
• Globalization of healthcare information technology
• Need for international sharing of knowledge and experience
• Adoption of convergent standards
• The case for common terminologies
• Testing for conformance, compliance, and certification
• Challenges faced in clinical adoption

“Australia, the US and the UK are facing challenges similar to those in Canada as they harness the benefits of information technology to improve the healthcare system,” said Richard Alvarez, Infoway’s President and CEO. “Closer collaboration with these countries will allow us to share our Canadian success stories, to learn from other countries and to align key initiatives beyond borders,” he added.

The four leaders have agreed to set-up an informal working group, which will help to reinforce – at a very senior level – the work being done by a number of international organizations dealing with health information technology.

Adoption of standards will be a key focus of the ongoing collaboration. Common standards will facilitate seamless exchange of information, which could be critically important in dealing with global public health threats. In addition, common international standards can help simplify the procurement and deployment of health information technology solutions, and increase the rate of adoption.

“Vendors should find it easier and less costly to develop solutions based on a common set of standards,” added Alvarez. “This could drive down costs for those who develop, purchase and implement these systems around the world.”

About Canada Health Infoway
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 and productivity.