In Canada, the majority of healthcare professionals are governed by independent, profession-specific Regulatory Colleges. These Colleges regulate the conduct and practice of physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals by registering them, establishing standards of practice, administering quality assurance programs, investigating complaints and, where appropriate, taking disciplinary action.
Professional Colleges are not responsible for regulating health-related technologies. However, many Colleges have recognized that certain technologies will dramatically change practice environments and have taken steps to ensure these technologies are used safely and ethically.
This paper starts by providing a background on e-health technologies and an overview of their regulation in Canada. It then explores the emerging role of Professional Colleges in the regulation of e-health technologies by discussing specific examples from British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. Strategies vary, from issuing guidelines and administering information systems to proposing regulations and bylaws. Each of these approaches shares a common objective: preserving and heightening patient safety and quality of care.
New developments in these provinces suggest that Colleges will play an increasingly important role in the future, particularly in terms of governing how electronic health records (EHRs) are used.
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