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Electronic Health Records

An electronic health record (EHR) is a secure, integrated collection of a person’s encounters with the health care system; it provides a comprehensive digital view of a patient’s health history.

With support from Infoway, each province and territory is creating a network of interoperable EHR solutions — one that links clinics, hospitals, pharmacies and other points of care. EHRs will help improve Canadians' access to health services, enhance the quality and safety of care, and help the health care system become more efficient.

Knowing the plan for electronic health information systems for clinicians

 

Electronic Health Record Components

  • Laboratory Information Systems
    Jurisdictional (i.e. Provincial/Territorial) Laboratory Information Systems allow authorized health providers to view lab test results regardless of where the test was conducted.
  • Diagnostic Imaging Repositories
    Diagnostic Imaging Repositories (DI-rs) enable authorized health care providers to access and view diagnostic images and associated reports regardless of where the clinician is located, or where the test was conducted.
  • Drug Information Systems
    A Drug Information System (DIS) enables authorized health care providers to access, manage, share and safeguard patients’ medication histories.
  • Telehealth
    Telehealth refers to the technology-enabled delivery of health care services when the clinician and the patient are not in the same location. By providing access to health care closer to home, this kind of innovation can greatly improve the quality of care for residents of remote, sparsely-populated jurisdictions.
  • Privacy
    Infoway's privacy mandate is to incorporate the protection of personal health information in its activities in accordance with applicable Canadian laws and privacy principles.
  • Clinical Interoperability
    Robust infrastructure that enables the sharing of clinical information with minimal disruption to workflow.
  • Public Health Surveillance
    A Public Health Surveillance System is a comprehensive solution that improves efficiency of public health, including communicable disease case management, immunization and disease outbreak management.
  • Registries
    Registries accurately and securely identify patients and authorized health care providers.

Diagnostic Imaging Systems

Diagnostic imaging (DI) systems enable authorized health care providers to access and view diagnostic images (such as x-rays, ultrasounds, MRIs and CT scans) and associated reports regardless of where they were created. DI systems electronically collect, store, manage, distribute and display patient radiology images and reports entirely in digital format, without the need for film.

To be fully effective, DI systems must be supported by modern digital archiving technologies, known as Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS). These systems are not always financially viable for small facilities, so sometimes one hospital acts as a centralized PACS repository (a "DI-r") for other facilities in a region.

DI and PACS improve productivity for doctors and technologists, reducing turnaround time by 30-40 per cent, which means patients get their diagnoses faster and their treatments sooner.

Virtually all diagnostic images taken at publicly-funded facilities in Canada are digital, stored in a repository and available for access by authorized clinicians. There were 62,000 estimated users of DI systems as of 2016, an increase of 195 per cent from the estimated 21,000 users in 2006.

Drug Information Systems

A drug information system (DIS) enables authorized users to access, manage, share and safeguard patients' medication histories. A DIS can reduce prescription errors resulting in fewer adverse drug events (such as drug-to-drug interactions) and reduced hospitalizations. A DIS can also reduce prescription drug abuse and improve patients' compliance with their medications. Pharmacists are more productive because a DIS reduces the need to call doctors with questions about hand-written prescriptions.

Infoway's goal is to have all Canadians' drug dispensing profiles stored in jurisdictional drug information repositories and available to authorized clinicians. As of June 30, 2017, this had been achieved for 72 per cent of Canadians. By 2016, there were 55,000 estimated users of DIS, more than 5 times the estimated 10,000 users in 2006.

 

 

 

Laboratory Information Systems

When a patient is tested at a clinic, hospital or other facility, laboratory information systems enable technicians to enter results into a database that is accessible to authorized users. This allows clinicians to quickly access results and reports, leading to faster diagnosis and treatment. These systems also improve efficiencies and help lower costs by reducing duplicate and unnecessary tests. Laboratory test results are increasingly being linked to individuals' electronic health records, which provides clinicians with additional resources for diagnosing and treating patients.

Infoway's goal is to have all Canadians' laboratory test results stored in jurisdictional lab information repositories and available to authorized clinicians. As of June 30, 2017, this had been achieved for 97 per cent of Canadians.

 

Interoperable EHRs

An interoperable electronic health record (iEHR) provides each individual Canadian with a secure and private record of their health history and care within the health system. The record is available to authorized health providers and the individual anywhere, anytime. This record is designed to facilitate the sharing of data across the continuum of care, across health care delivery organizations and across geographical areas.

Infoway's iEHR investment program supports jurisdictional projects that will build iEHR systems that enable authorized health care providers to collect, share, view and, in some cases, update a patient's essential health information.

Connected Health Information in Canada: A Benefits Evaluation Study

 

Here is a concept of what an authorized clinician may be able to view from an iEHR.

iEHRs that link clinics, hospitals, pharmacies and other points of care will help improve Canadians' access to health services, enhance the quality of care, patient safety, and help the health care system become more efficient.

How will Canadians benefit?

  • Authorized health care providers will have timely access to their patients’ comprehensive, up-to-date health information to support clinical decision making and integrated patient management across the continuum of care.
  • Canadians’ essential health information will be secure and private thanks to strict industry best practices, standards and technologies.
  • An iEHR will enable more efficient ways to gather, store and share information. This will result in efficiencies that save time and money.

Registries

Registries (also known as directories or repositories) accurately identify patients and authorized clinicians. As such, they are essential building blocks for electronic health records. Virtually all Canadians and practicing physicians have been uniquely identified in the registries that are established in each province and territory.

These registries enable benefits such as: access to more complete and accurate health information; improving clinical decision making; and more effective management of patient health information, resulting in increased security and reduced administrative time and costs.

 

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