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Canadian healthcare IT leaders form task force to align on EHR standards

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StandardsCanadian healthcare IT leaders have formed a task force to accelerate and promote the transition to a new set of pan-Canadian health information technology standards. The task force, made up of representatives from Canada Health Infoway, the Canadian Healthcare Information Technology Trade Association and the Association of Health Technology Industry will work to promote the adoption of pan-Canadian standards, especially with point-of-service systems, by engaging clinicians, healthcare providers and vendors. Officials from all stakeholder groups said collaborative planning is required to ensure the interoperable electronic health record is leveraged and the adoption of pan-Canadian standards is accelerated.

"Time and again, we have seen the success of industries like the financial and consumer sectors drive faster end-user adoption through the implementation of standards," said Dennis Giokas, chief technology officer at Canada Health Infoway."With the aligned direction of our industry partners we can now work collaboratively to accelerate the deployment and use of these interoperability standards for the benefit of Canadians and the Canadian health care system."

Giokas said common standards are an integral element of, and a key requirement for, the establishment of a pan-Canadian interoperable electronic health record. Significant cost savings and quality improvements are achieved when custom integration is eliminated, he noted.

"We have been building healthcare systems using industry standards for over 20 years," said Brendan Seaton, president of CHITTA, the Health Division of Information Technology Association of Canada."Achieving full adoption of the pan-Canadian standards, and realizing the benefit of Canada's health infrastructure investments, is a multi-year journey until new products emerge and legacy systems are retired."

Seaton said health information systems tend to be stable, so Canada would see a period where both existing and new standards are supported.

To enable the successful deployment of interoperable electronic health record software, the participating organizations support the use of HL7 and DICOM for messaging, LOINC and SNOMED CT for terminologies, HL7's Clinical Document Architecture for documents, HL7's Clinical Context Object Workgroup specification for clinical context management, and pan-Canadian interoperability profiles.

"The transition to common, pan-Canadian standards allows us to achieve the highest quality in an interoperable electronic health record system," said Daniel Laplante, executive director of AITS. "As an industry we are starting to see market demand for these new standards, and our members are making commitments to meet that demand. Success will come when we work together on this very complex challenge."

Canada has been a strong player in the global acceleration of EHR standards through its unique collaboration model. Launched in 2006, the Standards Collaborative provides coordination, implementation, support, education, conformance and maintenance of electronic health record standards in Canada. One third of its members are representatives from health information technology companies.

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 03 May 2008 19:05 )  

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