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Electronic health records

B.C. announces $148 million for provincial EHR

VICTORIA – British Columbia and Sun Microsystems Inc. have signed a $148-million contract to advance patient care by building the infrastructure needed for electronic health records and improving access to laboratory test results. The agreement was announced in mid-April by Health Minister George Abbott.

“The Province’s eHealth strategy is leveraging technology to improve healthcare,” said Abbott. “The agreement provides the foundation for electronic health records, enhances access to test results and will bring better, faster, safer healthcare to British Columbians, while protecting privacy.”

The project with Sun Microsystems (B.C.) Inc., a subsidiary of Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc., will produce:

• An infrastructure to enable access to a secure interoperable Electronic Health Record (iEHR) for physicians and other caregivers anywhere in B.C., while protecting patient privacy;

• The program’s first major clinical component, the Provincial Laboratory Information Solution (PLIS), which will consolidate lab test results in one repository; and

• Operations and support services for iEHR/PLIS for 10 years.

The $148-million agreement also supports the Province’s throne speech commitment to create anew electronic medical records system to give physicians better access to patient records and improve service to patients.

PLIS will enable physicians, nurses and other authorized caregivers involved in clinical practice to receive lab test results online. iEHR will provide the technology infrastructure that will allow laboratory, pharmacy, and diagnostic imaging information to flow securely between authorized healthcare providers and source systems across all of B.C.

“Congratulations to B.C. on this major step towards making electronic health records a reality in the province,” said Infoway’s president and CEO Richard Alvarez. “We’re pleased to collaborate with the B.C. government as they put in place solutions that will result in a safer, higher quality, more efficient healthcare system. Infoway plans to invest a total of over $55 million in B.C.’s iEHR and lab information systems initiatives.”

iEHR/PLIS are two of the foundation projects of B.C.’s eHealth strategy to put the right information in the right hands at the right time to support personal healthcare decision-making and health system sustainability.

“Electronic health records are fundamental to modernizing the health-care system and improving access and outcomes of Canadians,” said Abbott. “Technology has revolutionized the way people do business and communicate, and the way public services, including healthcare, are delivered. B.C. is starting to realize the full potential of this technology to give caregivers better access to patient records and improve services to patients.”

All patient information will be protected by privacy measures that are among the strongest in Canada, according the province. The personal health information in the electronic health record will comply with the Province’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act , the Personal Information Privacy Act and clauses of the Canada Health Act that govern the use of information for health-related purposes.

In addition, access to patient information will be restricted to only those having a legal right and clear need to access the information or to access the systems where the information resides.

Sun Microsystems (B.C.) Inc. and its principal development partners, MedPlus and First Consulting Group, will design and build the PLIS and iEHR solutions in accordance with Canada Health Infoway architecture and standards.

TELUS and CGI are responsible for managed operations services and application management. The contract with Sun is an Alternative Service Delivery project developed with the Ministry of Labour and Citizens’ Services. The contract concludes a Joint Solution Procurement process initiated in February 2006.