Canada Health Infoway’s Journey Into Technology

When Canada Health Infoway (Infoway) was established in 2001, some people thought digitizing our health system would be easy, and fast, completed in about a decade. Others, like those of us who are in the technology field, knew it would be hard, and we would never be finished because there will always be new technologies that can be adapted to benefit health care.

At Infoway, we have embraced these challenges and evolved over the years. Many of you will know that about three years ago Infoway established PrescribeIT®, Canada’s national e-prescribing service. You may also know that more recently we embarked on an initiative called ACCESS Gateway, a technology service that enables data sharing and the delivery of digital health services to Canadians. What you might not know is how we got to this point, and where we intend to go next.

I’ll talk about that journey at the 2019 Infoway Partnership Conference, taking place in Ottawa from November 12-13, and I hope you’ll join me. This year’s conference also has a great line-up of distinguished national and international speakers, including: Dr. Simon Eccles, Deputy CEO and Chief Clinical Information Officer of NHSX, the unit that is leading digital health strategy for England’s National Health Service; Ry Moran, Director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, the permanent home for all statements, documents and other materials gathered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that examined the Residential School system; Holly Witteman, Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Emergency Medicine at Université Laval in Quebec City, who will talk about co-designing digital health applications with patients; Dr. Jeffrey Turnbull, Medical Director of Ottawa Inner City Health Inc.; and Alexandre Le Bouthillier, Co-Founder of Imagia, who will talk about personalized health care with artificial intelligence.

I don’t want to give everything away before my presentation, but you can expect to hear about some of the lesser- known technologies and associated services Infoway has built and operated over the years. For example, we have provided national leadership in interoperability standards. We’re the National Release Centre for several messaging and vocabulary standards that ensure that health information is standardized and shareable.

We also operate InfoCentral, an online community platform that enables collaboration among clinicians, digital health representatives, vendors, developers and others. The platform also provides convenient access to resources, such as interoperability specifications and APIs, that enable developers to implement interfaces to health information systems faster and more efficiently. In addition, we developed and operate Terminology Gateway, where users can browse and download terminology content, subset data and code systems.

Over the years, Infoway has built software as well as collaboration tools, developer tools and standards tools. For example, Infoway Message Builder abstracts the complexity of HL7v3 messages and greatly simplifies the work of developers when implementing them. And Infoway HL7 Explorer is a powerful browser that makes it easier and more efficient to locate details and information about HL7 v3 structures, vocabulary and references.

With PrescribeIT®, we decided to establish the service on a platform that is run by a technology partner. ACCESS Gateway will be a shared platform, developed by Infoway and partners, with services exposed via a large number of digital health applications and providers. The objective is to have a single focal point for health data, instead of islands of data across the country. The goal is to provide Canadians with secure access to their health information to digitally- enable health services.

Identity, access and consent are the first components we’re working on for ACCESS Gateway. During my talk at Partnership, I’ll walk through a demonstration of how identity management would work on a phone and computer, and I’ll talk about where we’re going next with the Gateway. Infoway’s journey into technology has been interesting and exciting. Many of you have been a part of that journey, and we look forward to working with you on the next leg.

While I’ll be talking about Infoway’s technology journey, Infoway’s Shelagh Maloney and Lynne Zucker, Executive Vice Presidents of Engagement and Marketing and ACCESS Health respectively, will talk about transforming how Canadians experience health care. Michael Green, Infoway’s President and CEO, will take a futuristic look at how new and emerging technologies and other trends are helping our health system evolve and changing how Canadians interact with it.

Infoway’s journey has always involved close collaboration and true partnerships with all of our stakeholders — Canadians, clinicians, governments, industry and innovators — and that will continue. By working together, we will realize our collective vision of providing Canadians with secure access to their health information anytime, anywhere, from the device of their choice.

To see the full program for the 2019 Infoway Partnership Conference, go to https://bit.ly/2II2iRr and to register, go to https://bit.ly/2wd8g5M. I look forward to seeing you there!

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