HealthcarePapers 5(3) October 2004 : 33-36.doi:10.12927/hcpap.2004.16862

The Electronic Health Record: A Leap Forward in Patient Safety

Richard Alvarez


In his review of patient safety issues in the Canadian healthcare system, Dr. Matthew Morgan states that "coordinated national EHR initiatives will cost less, save lives and prevent harm when compared to the status quo." Canada Health Infoway is spearheading this initiative in Canada. Infoway's No. 1 guiding principle for investment is that projects undertaken must "enhance the quality of patient care, healthcare services and patient safety." They must also support the development and adoption of pan-Canadian interoperable EHR solutions. Infoway is working in seven major areas to improve electronic access to accurate and timely health information in order to reduce errors, facilitate accurate diagnoses and speed treatment. These areas include the building blocks of the EHR: infostructure, registries, digital imaging systems, and drug and laboratory information systems. Infoway is also developing and expanding telehealth networks to increase the scope of the Canadian healthcare system. Infoway was recently mandated to develop a public health surveillance system for infectious diseases to give healthcare providers a tool for tracking and managing disease outbreaks in the Canadian population. These systems will improve safety, quality, accessibility, cost-efficiency and the sustainability of the healthcare system. Patient safety is a cornerstone of Infoway's activities.



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