Information technology (IT) has a fundamental role to play in transforming Canada’s healthcare system. Over the past decade, large investments and incentive programs have helped to establish a foundation of IT infrastructure and systems that enable healthcare providers to shift from manual environments to more efficient approaches that deliver up-to-date and accurate information.
Despite considerable investment, many systems remain islands of information unconnected to each other. The fragmentation of health information is a major inhibitor of collaboration between health providers. Further, technology adoption remains anemic, with many physicians continuing to rely on paper in their practices.
Nevertheless, the investments made to date have created a foundation for us to move to a new stage of systems investment. By introducing new policies and programs that are purpose-built to move beyond technology adoption to achieve meaningful health outcomes, we can create opportunities for Canada to improve healthcare delivery in a fiscally sustainable way.
This paper explores some of these opportunities. It highlights international examples of programs and policies that could be adapted for the Canadian context and examines the impact of incentive programs to-date in provinces across the country. Finally, a three-stage model presents a pragmatic approach to achieving a new standard of care for the benefit of all Canadians.
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