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Healthcare networks

IBM Canada wins B.C. contract for surveillance system

VICTORIA – The Province of British Columbia has awarded a five-year, $24.7-million contract to IBM Canada to design and build a system for communicable diseases, and to support the system with continuing improvements during that timeframe.

All provinces and territories have participated with British Columbia and Canada Health Infoway in designing the new system. Each province and territory is planning its implementation strategy for the system that will be ready to install in 2007.

Once complete, the system will enable public health professionals to log on to a secure, easy-to-use portal and quickly enter information about cases, symptoms and outcomes, providing health officials with a timely and comprehensive view of the state of public health.

Should a serious communicable disease occur, the system will alert public health officials who will plan and direct actions to protect Canadians.

“This project is essential in Canada’s preparations for emerging public health threats,” said Todd Kalyniuk, a partner in IBM Canada’s healthcare consulting practice. “Canada learned from SARS that having an effective information system in the hands of front-line workers is key to early detection and effective management of communicable diseases like SARS, West Nile Virus, and Avian Flu.”

The system will be built on applications from IBM Canada Business Partners Scientific Technology Corp., Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), Amaranth Consulting Group and Sotern NV, as well as IBM software products including Websphere, Tivoli and DB2.

Canada Health Infoway, the key investor in this initiative, received funding from the Government of Canada to plan and coordinate the development and implementation of the pan-Canadian disease surveillance and management system. Participating provinces and territories will cover the remainder of the costs.

“British Columbia was chosen to lead the project with Infoway, on behalf of the provinces and territories, because of our track record in public health management,” said B.C. Health Minister George Abbott. “A national surveillance system will enhance health professionals’ ability to respond in an emergency and to work more collaboratively with partners across Canada.”

“This system will help healthcare providers, patients and governments prevent the spread of disease through faster and better identification of potential epidemic or disease outbreaks wherever they occur in Canada,” said Richard Alvarez, Infoway’s President and CEO.

“SARS taught us that it was time to invest in a new generation of surveillance systems to track infectious diseases,” added Federal Health Minister Tony Clement. “The better our information is, the better prepared we are. To fully protect the health of Canadians, we must develop the necessary tools to allow us to coordinate our responses to emerging disease threats.”

The federal government provided $100 million to Canada Health Infoway to plan and coordinate development and implementation of the system across the country.

Participating provinces and territories will cover the remainder of the costs.

Patient privacy and confidentiality will be protected to meet all requirements outlined in federal and jurisdictional health information privacy legislation. Safeguards will be built into the surveillance system to protect patient information.