Canada Health Infoway has accomplished a lot since its creation

(Chapter 4—Electronic Health Records - Fall 2009 Report of the Auditor General)

Ottawa, 3 November 2009—Canada Health Infoway, the not-for-profit corporation created in 2001 to lead the national development of electronic health records, has accomplished a great deal in eight years, says the Auditor General of Canada, Sheila Fraser, in her Report tabled today in the House of Commons. The audit found that Infoway identified key requirements and components of electronic health record (EHR) systems and developed a blueprint for their design.

Infoway’s 2010 goal is for 50 percent of Canadians to have their electronic health records available to health care professionals.

Infoway has made a considerable effort to report on progress, but the meaning of some figures it reports is not clear,” said Ms. Fraser.

While Infoway reports that 17 percent of Canadians live in provinces or territories where a complete EHR system is available, the audit found it does not explain in its reports that having a system available does not mean health care professionals are using it.

As of March 2009, the federal government has granted Infoway $1.2 billion to invest jointly with the provinces and territories in projects to speed up the development and use of compatible electronic health records in Canada. The audit found that Infoway has ensured that projects put forth by the provinces and territories were designed to comply with the blueprint and standards for compatibility. In addition, Infoway’s controls over executive pay, travel, and hospitality are basically sound, although it could improve its contracting policy.

The report notes that unless there is a significant increase in the percentage of primary care physicians who use computerized records, the full benefits of the EHR initiative might not be realized.

“This is a highly complex initiative. Meeting the significant challenges that lie ahead will take the collaboration of Infoway, all provinces and territories, and other stakeholders,” said Ms. Fraser.

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The chapter “Electronic Health Records” is available on the Office of the Auditor General of Canada website. Six provincial audit offices are auditing how electronic health records funded by Infoway and/or provincial governments are being implemented in their respective provinces. They will each report separately to provincial legislatures; a joint summary report on all of the audits will be issued in Spring 2010.

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