Canadian Healthcare Technology reports that eHealth Ontario will be launching a proof of concept information exchange “to demonstrate how data within EMRs can be securely and efficiently delivered to other authorized clinician EMRs, clinical repositories and healthcare research organizations”.
This is an important step in the right direction; however, I am not sure why it took so long to get here and why we do not have health information exchanges universally implemented across Canada, not just in proof of concept form in Ontario.
I have written about this frequently in the past and I will say it again. Physicians (and other clinical team members) are information exchangers. That is what we do all day long — exchange information with other organizations or clinical providers to facilitate care of patients. Rather than a proof of concept (which has a limited lifespan and mandate), why not just implement a health information exchange (HIE). There is extensive experience in the United States as well as countries such as New Zealand, Australia, and Denmark in the implementation of HIEs. One should not have to prove the concept — the concept is correct. Rather, identify best practices and short circuit the process by making this a permanent project.
In essence, it is all about the message. Now that we have a critical mass of clinicians using EMRs, it is time to focus on standard messages (take a lesson out of Denmark’s book regarding which messages they are using and how the messages have been standardized). I am not trying to simplify a complex set of tasks. Due diligence will need to be done — however there should be enough worldwide knowledge and vendors of HIEs that are sufficiently experienced to implement a solution.
The big challenge is the lack of standardized data in EMRs in Canada. This will require extensive data mapping to ensure compatibility of the message between systems.
My two cents: We may as well get started.
What are your thoughts? Are we overdue for health information exchanges? Is there value in a pilot project or should we just get the job done? To add your thoughts, click on the “Comments” link below.