In what has become an annual tradition, Canada Health Infoway is holding a Partnership Conference during Digital Health Week, which this year is November 12-18. The Infoway Partnership Conference brings together health care leaders for two days of debate and discussion, as well as an exchange of digital health best practices. It will be held this year in Montreal.
“This really is one of the highlights of the year for us,” says Infoway President and CEO Michael Green. “Our health care system is something we cherish as Canadians, but the truth is, there are some areas where it isn’t measuring up as well as it should. This conference will be an opportunity for us to discuss how we can resolve some of the challenges we are facing.”
The challenges Green is referring to were identified in a recent study of 11 countries published by the Commonwealth Fund, which shows Canada lagging behind many other countries when it comes to timely, equitable access to appropriate care. The study found that 29 per cent of Canadians reported waiting four or more hours to receive attention in the hospital emergency department. In France, by comparison, only one per cent of people wait that long. With respect to being able to view lab results online, Canada ranked third from the bottom, with only six per cent of people able to do so, while France ranked first at 27 per cent. Canada ranked dead last in terms of patients being able to email a doctor with a question, with only four per cent able to do so. France was first, at 24 per cent.
Clearly, Canada needs to do better. One part of doing that, says Infoway’s Green, is to incorporate digitally-enabled solutions and services.
Infoway has developed a digital health strategy that will, over the next four years, focus on large, multi-jurisdictional or pan-Canadian projects to empower Canadians and strengthen their care teams. The strategy is called Driving Access to Care, which is also the theme of this year’s Partnership Conference.
“The Montreal conference will be focusing on two strategic goals that we have identified as part of Driving Access to Care,” says Green. “We will be looking at safer access to medications, and empowering Canadians through better access to their health information and digital health services.”
Discussions about safer access to medications will include the pan-Canadian e-prescribing service called PrescribeIT™. Infoway has been working with Health Canada, the provinces and territories, industry stakeholders, retailers and other private sector companies to design, build and operate the technology infrastructure for PrescribeIT™, and scale the service for use across the country.
Deployment of PrescribeIT™ has already begun in Ontario and Alberta, and deployment in other jurisdictions is being planned over the coming year. When fully rolled out, it will be available to all pharmacies, prescribers and patients in Canada. It will provide safer and more effective medication management by enabling providers to transmit a prescription electronically from their electronic medical record (EMR) to a pharmacist’s pharmacy management system (PMS).
The PrescribeIT™ service will ensure that patients can deal with their pharmacy of choice. It will improve patient safety by ensuring there is better information at the point of care, and it will reduce prescription drug fraud and abuse. In particular, PrescribeIT™ will help support Canada’s response to the current opioid crisis, by ensuring that prescriptions can be tracked in a consistent and patient-centred manner.
Conference discussions about better access for Canadians to their health information and to digital health services will start with the basic assumption that this access is a good and in fact necessary thing.
Infoway shares with its partners a commitment to an integrated and person-centred health care system for all Canadians, and a conviction that the way to achieve this is by giving Canadians as much access as possible to their personal health information and to digitally-enabled health care services. There is mounting evidence that giving people access to their health information increases their ability to manage their conditions, and supports more informed discussions with their doctors. Overall, this kind of person-centred care is directly related to better outcomes, increased safety, and lower health costs.
Infoway’s newest offering is the ACCESS Digital Health (working title) ecosystem, a collection of services designed to help Canadians better manage their health and strengthen their care teams by supporting digitally-enabled care and services. This bold and innovative offering allows Infoway, working with partners, to improve care across Canada, with special attention to key priorities areas: youth mental health and addictions, rural and remote health service delivery, and home and community care. The Partnership Conference will be an excellent opportunity to learn more about the ACCESS opportunities for citizens, clinicians, health solutions providers and governments.
“I cannot emphasize enough the fact that by addressing and improving access to care issues using technology, we can improve health care,” says Infoway’s Michael Green.
Green adds that he is also particularly proud of the fact that, for the third year in a row, the Infoway Partnership Conference has been accredited as a “Patients Included” event. This refers to an international movement to ensure that health care conferences and journals incorporate the experience of patients as experts in living with their condition while ensuring they are neither excluded nor exploited.
“It’s pretty simple,” says Green. “If a conference intended to improve the quality of care being delivered to patients doesn’t have patients presenting and in attendance, it really isn’t doing its job.”
The 2018 Infoway Partnership Conference will be held November 13-14. For more information, go to www.infowayinforoute.ca/partnership