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Aboriginal health

Infoway to fund 100% of First Nations telehealth

OTTAWA – Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine congratulated Canada Health Infoway’s (Infoway) Board of Directors for its decision to provide 100 percent funding to First Nations telehealth projects linked to existing projects within provinces and territories.

“I am pleased that Canada Health Infoway recognizes the importance of increasing access to healthcare in First Nations communities,” said National Chief Fontaine. “The new funding model will help increase the availability of care, delivered locally, through telehealth.”

Infoway has agreed to a new funding formula that offers First Nations 100 percent funding for telehealth deployment if their projects are integrated with an existing provincial or territorial project. Stand-alone First Nations telehealth projects will receive 75 percent funding.

“We recognize the barriers to care faced by many remote and isolated First Nations communities,” said Richard Alvarez, President and CEO of Canada Health Infoway, the federally funded, not-for-profit organization that is leading the acceleration of electronic health records across Canada. “For those who live in these communities, in particular, telehealth brings medical experts to them, thanks to technology, thereby increasing access to much-needed health care.”

According to the First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey (RHS), nearly one in five First Nations adults have no doctor or nurse available in their community. Telehealth can improve access by overcoming barriers of geography, transportation infrastructure, and socio-economic disparity.

Currently, about 100 First Nations across Canada use telehealth technologies for clinical consultation, continuing professional education, health promotion, healthcare management and administration.

“This decision represents an important building block, but our work is not done,” said National Chief Fontaine. “We must continue to forge ahead to continue to enhance the quality of care available in First Nations communities.”

Infoway works with provinces and territories to invest in electronic health projects, which support safer, more efficient healthcare delivery. Fully respecting patient confidentiality, these private and secure systems provide healthcare professionals with immediate access to complete and accurate patient information, enabling better decisions about diagnosis and treatment. The result is a sustainable healthcare system offering improved quality, accessibility, productivity and cost savings.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens of Canada.