box10.gif (1299 bytes)







Electronic records

Infoway forms team to help docs and nurses computerize

MONTREAL – Canada Health Infoway has formed a team of clinician advisors – doctors, nurses and pharmacists – to communicate the benefits of health information technology to their respective professional communities and to provide advice on technology adoption challenges faced by healthcare providers.

“We can only succeed in making electronic health records a reality if healthcare providers adopt the technology”, said Richard Alvarez, President and CEO, Canada Health Infoway. “Without their acceptance, our efforts are futile.”

It has been recognized throughout the healthcare system that physicians, in particular, have been slow to adopt computerized solutions for clinical purposes. Canadian doctors lag far behind their counterparts in Europe in this area.

The creation of a clinician team at Infoway is a key part of the organization’s plans to foster technology adoption by healthcare professionals and to ensure that electronic health records exist for 50 percent of Canadians by the end of 2009.

The newest clinician advisor on the team is Dr. Claude Poirier from Quebec. Dr. Poirier was a hospital executive for 14 years and has participated in a number of initiatives to enhance and modernize Quebec’s healthcare system. He sits on Quebec’s steering committee for the introduction of an electronic health record and is coordinator of the integrated Laval University Health Network in Quebec.

With the addition of Dr. Poirier, Infoway now has four clinicians on its team, as follows:

• Dr. Robert Burns is a seasoned healthcare executive with broad experience in the healthcare system including roles in clinical practice. He has served as CEO of the Alberta Medical Association and as Registrar for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta. He also served on the executive of the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada and as an Executive Medical Director for the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

• Dr. Mark Dermer, based in Ottawa, is a general practitioner with extensive experience in using and promoting electronic medical records within his practice and within the physician community in Canada. Before entering medicine, Dr. Dermer worked in the computer industry and has over 20 years’ experience in matching computer capabilities with user needs.

• Lynn Nagle (pictured), RN, PhD, has significant healthcare informatics experience with more than 25 years as a clinician, educator, researcher and administrator. Previously, Dr. Nagle was Senior Vice-President, Technology and Knowledge Management, Mount Sinai Hospital, in Toronto. She is past and founding president of the Canadian Nursing Informatics Association.

Infoway’s Clinician team has seen the benefits and challenges of electronic health records first-hand and is already playing an active role in fostering the adoption of EHR in their respective professional communities. The members of the clinician team have met with national physician and nurses organizations and have engaged in dialogue with several of the provincial health organizations across the country on the challenges and best approaches to end user engagement.

The clinician team works in collaboration with the Infoway Health Provider Advisory Groups. To date, a Physician and Nurses Advisory Group have been formed to provide advice to Infoway on the end user engagement projects. A Pharmacists Advisory Group will be formed in the near future.

“Electronic records are a win-win-win opportunity for primary care. Patients, providers and payers all benefit”, says Dermer. “The challenge for our Infoway clinician team will be to help providers overcome the barriers of limited time, expertise and funds to make the transition to electronic systems, so that everyone can enjoy their benefits.”

From a nursing perspective, Nagle explains: “To fully benefit from the power of this technology, the nursing profession must be an active partner upfront in its design, introduction and deployment. As well, preparing the profession to adopt these new technologies requires a comprehensive approach that includes education, leadership and change management.”

Infoway plans to add a physician from Atlantic Canada and a pharmacist to its team of clinician advisors in the near future.

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.