A May 5 article in The Gazette by Kevin Dougherty indicates that all is not well in Québec in terms of the province's electronic health records strategy. Québec's Dossier de santé du Québec (DSQ) was expected to be in full operation by 2010, but, according to the author, in 2011 it is only 38% complete. In light of the obvious challenges encountered in Québec — including conflicts between the province and Canada Health Infoway, which resulted in a loss of $52 Million in federal funding — it is not surprising that the strategy is struggling.
However, there are two key inaccuracies in the article that stand out:
- According to the author, auditor-general Renaud Lachance, in his fourth report on spending on the Dossier de santé du Québec states, “Other provinces started by computerizing personal health records, then developed a system to allow access to the records from anywhere in the province.” This is incorrect. No other province has an implemented personal health record strategy and the provinces did not begin with the PHR. From the article, I am unsure whether there is a clear understanding of the Personal Health Record.
- Agnès Maltais, the Parti Québécois health critic in an appeal to health minister Yves Bolduc “estimated that family doctors will be able to see 20 per cent more patients once the system is up and running.” This is grossly misleading. There is no published evidence that demonstrates the ability for family doctors to see 20% more patients with the implementation of an EHR. (Note, this is not an EMR in the doctor’s office — Québec is just in the process of establishing an EMR program for providers).
If the article incorrectly quotes politicians and the auditor general, I withdraw my comments above. However if the author is correct, I believe this is another example of misinformation, a lack of understanding of strategies being rolled in other provinces, and a prime example of Canada's go-it-alone provincial electronic health record strategies. The provinces are not talking to one another regarding lessons learned and best practices. The tragedy is that the taxpayers are footing the bill for this lack of coordination.
Where is the public debate and consultation? Why is there no mechanism amongst the provinces to share expertise and reduce wastage of public dollars? Under Canada’s equalization of payments program, as a “have-not” province, Québec received $8.5 Billion in equalization payments in 2010/2011. This means that a portion of my tax dollars as a British Columbia resident are actually subsidizing the Québec EHR strategy!
What are your thoughts? Is Québec unique or is the report reflective of what is happening in all provinces? How can we correct the situation? Click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.