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Bob's Blog #1 -- Background Information

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Bob did a great deal of reading on the pan-Canadian Electronic Health Records (EHR) project. He got a lot of information about the potential benefits of the EHR from the Health Council of Canada, from a published eHealth study, and from the federal government agency that was set up to roll out Canada's EHR, Canada Health Infoway. He also found some American information about what improvements were realized by the US Veteran's Health Administration after they rolled out their EHR system for the 24 million vets in the US.

It's hard to figure exactly how much an EHR would cost for all of Canada, but Infoway had some information about it on their website; Bob figured their estimate ($10-$12 billion over 10 years) was about as good as anybody else's. Bob was also able to find, from the Health Canada website, that $1.2 billion had been provided to Infoway by the federal government to fund EHR projects in Canada plus another $400 million to fund wait time initiatives (Bob figured at least half of that second bit would go towards the EHR). Just as a matter of perspective, Bob noted how readily the US-based auto industry was able to secure $4 billion in bail out money from the government.

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) released a position paper in August, 2008 regarding what it felt should be done to help improve Canada's woeful adoption by physicians of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) systems. He also found information regarding what is the CMA's idea of why doctors aren't using computers today to deliver care (according to a 2007 report, funding seems to be biggest barrier despite their salaries). Bob had a bit of a time wading through some of the issues around "naming" of things. For instance, an EMR is the patient records system that would be in a family doctor's office. By comparison, an EHR is the "shared health record" that would be accessed and used across multiple care delivery settings (family doctor, specialist, hospital, etc.). It is expected that the EHR would be an online system hosted by each province and which would provide a cradle-to-grave, secure record of each Canadians' health information and their interactions with the healthcare system.

You can email Bob by clicking here. If this has got you thinking about Canada's EHR, you can contact your member of parliament by clicking here.

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