Federal and provincial auditors present report on electronic health records

(Electronic Health Records in Canada—An Overview of Federal and Provincial Audit Reports—April 2010 Report of the Auditor General of Canada)

Ottawa, 20 April 2010—A report signed by the Auditor General of Canada, Sheila Fraser, and six of her provincial counterparts was tabled today in the House of Commons. This report is an overview of the reports on separate but concurrent audits carried out over the past year by the federal audit office and those of Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan. These audits looked at how electronic health records are being developed and implemented in each jurisdiction. Each office has reported the results of its audit to its own legislature.

“Electronic health records are expected to reduce costs and improve the quality of care,” said Ms. Fraser. “But this pan-Canadian initiative involves significant investments and challenges.”

The report notes that developing and implementing electronic health records across Canada is a vast and costly undertaking. While progress has been made, the initiative will require the continued collaboration of governments, Canada Health Infoway Inc., and other stakeholders to deal with the issues and challenges raised in the audits.

These challenges include the need to increase the number of primary care doctors using computerized record systems that can share and communicate information; to upgrade completed EHR projects that do not meet all the standards for national compatibility; to address the implications of differences in provincial and territorial laws regarding the collection, use, protection, and disclosure of personal health information; to track the total costs; and to fund the completion of the initiative. A key question is whether the goal of having electronic health records of 50 percent of Canadians available to their authorized health care professionals will be met by the end of 2010.

“My colleagues and I encourage stakeholders to report comprehensively on progress made and benefits achieved. We also encourage the committees of each legislature to continue monitoring this complex initiative,” said Ms. Fraser.

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Electronic Health Records in Canada—An Overview of Federal and Provincial Audit Reports” is available on the Office of the Auditor General of Canada website, along with “Electronic Health Records,” the 2009 audit report by the OAG (November 2009 Report, Chapter 4). The six provincial audit offices are also releasing the overview report publicly.

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