PEI announces funding for eHealth
PEI – The province of Prince Edward Island has announced a $7 million
investment in a new eHealth centre, to be located in Summerside. The
facility will be housed in the historic Holman building, close to the
waterfront, with the purpose of testing the interoperability of
computerized health systems, identifying trouble-spots and creating
The investment is part of $200 million program to kick-start the
biosciences industry in the province. The eHealth centre will build on
the success of Carestream Health, which already operates its
international R&D centre for Radiological Information Systems (RIS) out
of the Holman building.
While relatively low-profile to date, the PEI-based Carestream Health
development centre has emerged as a major success story for the company,
winning high-profile deals around the world – such as the contract to
supply all health trusts in Scotland with RIS and a recent agreement to
supply the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in Los Angeles, Calif., with a
Overall, it currently supports 600 radiological information systems
around the world from its centre in Summerside.
However, the success of the centre will hinge on attracting other major
companies to the site, creating a cluster of eHealth expertise. “We know
we’re going to have to bring other companies here,” said Michael Mayne
deputy minister of bioscience and innovation for the government of
Prince Edward Island.
Preliminary discussions have already begun with companies such as Sun
Microsystems and Bell Aliant.
Mayne said there is not yet a director for the centre, which is expected
to open its doors in 2009, but the intent is to bring in a leader from
the private sector.
The move to open an interoperability testing centre comes on the heels
of a similar effort in Toronto. Called the eHealth Collaboratory, it was
launched with great fanfare in 2006, but appears to have achieved little
since that time.
That may very well leave the door open for a new centre in Summerside.
(Vancouver Coastal Health is funding a new centre, called the PROOF lab,
in Vancouver, but it is focusing on primary care Electronic Medical
To be sure, the eHealth centre in Summerside will face challenges,
including its perceived remoteness.
Mayne countered that geography shouldn’t be an obstacle, as many
successful enterprises have thrived in unlikely locations. For example,
the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn., is located on the periphery, but
has become a world-leading medical centre, nonetheless. “The Mayo
started in the middle of a cornfield,” said Mayne. “Now, it’s one of the
world’s top medical centres and has several other facilities, as well.”
He also noted that in an era of high-capacity Internet and satellite for
voice and data, location is not as much of a problem – as evidenced by
the success of Carestream Health. Indeed, advanced communication
technologies have enabled Carestream Health to provide much of its
ongoing service and support at a distance from customers. That model
could be used, similarly, to test eHealth applications in hospitals and
health regions across Canada.
Companies and organizations that partner with the eHealth centre will be
expected to contribute resources, including personnel with expertise.
The facility also plans to draw computer scientists from the University
of Prince Edward Island, in nearby Charlottetown, as well as from other