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Electronic health records

National Institutes of Health Informatics is launched

WATERLOO, Ont. – The National Institutes of Health Informatics (NIHI), Canada’s first national organization dedicated to fostering Health Informatics (HI) research and education, has been established. Details about  NIHI can be found on its website:

Founders of the organization are:

• Professor Nicholas Cercone, Dean, Science and Engineering, York University, Toronto, Ontario.

• Professor H. Dominic Covvey, Founding Director, Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario.

• Ms. Shirley Fenton, Managing Director, Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research, Waterloo, Ontario.

• Mr. Christopher Fultz, Lawyer, Wilder Wilder & Langtry, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

• Mr. Robert Hawkins, Retired, Former CEO of HealthVision Corporation, Victoria, British Columbia.

• Professor Kendall Ho, Associate Dean, University of British Columbia,Vancouver, British Columbia.

• Professor David Koff, Head, Division of Radiology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario.

• Professor Andre Kushniruk, Director, Health Information Science, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia.

• Mr. Sam Marafioti, Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Development, and  CIO, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ontario.

• Professor Grace Paterson, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

• Professor Nicola Shaw, iCARE, University of Alberta & Capital Health, Edmonton, Alberta.

• Professor David Zitner, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Information and communications systems have been used in health organizations for over 50 years. “e-Health” is increasingly used to address processes from the routine to the clinically critical. However, we still have a long way to go in terms of Health Informatics research and the development of fully competent people to plan, select, implement, manage and evaluate systems and methods used in health.

The need for research and education in Health Informatics is even more important now than at the start of the computer revolution. Today we find ourselves far less limited by technology, but we are still impaired by our ideas, knowledge, understanding and skills in addressing the human impacts of systems.

NIHI is a virtual, self-sustaining institute of institutes facilitating the development of a diversity of local initiatives dedicated to HI research and education. NIHI does not promote its own research and it is not an educational organization, but rather it will be a catalyst, fostering and facilitating research and education at its component entities.

The objectives of NIHI are to:

• Assist in the identification and development of groups, centers and institutes dedicated to Health Informatics research and education;
• Promote academic collaboration, credibility and professionalism in Health Informatics;
• Facilitate the development, maintenance and renewal of the human and physical resources that can support the Canadian health system;
• Foster the expansion of the knowledge base in Health Informatics and associated disciplines in order to enhance the well being of Canadians;
• Enhance the Health Informatics profile of Canada globally;
• Exemplify and promote the highest level of excellence, integrity, and accountability in the pursuit of these objectives.

Today, Health Informatics research in Canada is geographically dispersed. Centers of excellence exist in specialty areas, but the greatest strength and profile would be derived from uniting these centers of excellence and integrating their efforts as national-scale projects. The virtual union of these organizations will have the multidisciplinary diversity and capacity to address problems of national and international significance and to attract major funding.

NIHI will undertake a number of efforts that are of value to Canada and external to Canada. NIHI will build relationships with both the health system and with private industry.

These will include, but not be limited to the following:

• Offering the Applied Health Informatics Bootcamp.
• Offering the eHealth Risk Workshop Series (eHealth Privacy, eHealth Risk Management and eHealth Security workshops) and others.
• Offering an annual academic Health Informatics conference.
• Convening Think-tank sessions (with resultant reports) on topics of current interest.
• Consulting with educational institutions, health organizations, industry and government.

Initially, NIHI has focused on bringing HI academics together. NIHI has been launched with the participation of researchers and teachers from most of the universities and colleges with existing or incipient HI education or research programs.

Current participants and founding members can be found on the NIHI website. NIHI has evolved from the concepts on which the Waterloo Institute of Health Informatics Research was founded. Ultimately, though, NIHI will go in directions determined by its participants, powered by their enthusiasm and commitments.

Over the next several months the opportunity to participate will be expanded to include students, health system professionals, and individuals from the private sector organizations, government and other agencies that serve the health system. NIHI is interested in hearing from anyone in the HI community interested in participating and contributing. If you are interested or have questions about collaborating with NIHI, please let us know via: