A new qualitative study traces the 10-year history of Canada’s e-health plan and assesses its successes and challenges. In 2001, Canada Health Infoway released a plan to implement a national system of electronic health records. The government-funded corporation introduced a new model for pan-Canadian collaboration to establish core aspects of a national e-health framework.
The authors used a case study approach, reviewing national reports and documents and conducting structured interviews with 29 key stakeholders representing national and provincial organizations responsible for establishing policy and strategic direction for health information technology. The authors analyzed transcripts of the interviews to identify themes and their relationships.
The study reveals that key stakeholders identify funding, national standards, patient registries and digital imaging as important achievements of the e-health plan. Barriers to adoption of the plan identified include lack of an e-health policy, inadequate involvement of clinicians, failure to establish a business case for using electronic health records, and inflexibility in approach. Taking these factors into account, the authors suggest that to accelerate adoption of electronic health records and to achieve a timely return on investment, an e-health policy needs to be tightly aligned with the major strategic directions of health care reform. Adoption also needs to be actively fostered through a bottom-up, clinical needs-first approach, a national policy for investment in electronic health records, and financial incentives based on patient outcomes.
See “A Qualitative Study of Canada’s Experience with the Implementation of Electronic Health Information Technology,” Canadian Medical Association Journal (published online February 22, 2011), available atwww.cmaj.ca.