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Safety – a missing mandate in Canada’s national EHR project?

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Canada Health Infoway (CHI) has been funded by the Canadian government with $2.1 billion since 2001 to foster the development of a pan-Canadian EHR infrastructure. CHI’s mandate has been to “collaborate[s] with Canada‚Äôs provinces and territories, health care providers and technology solution companies to implement private and secure health information systems.” (see CHI’s latest report to the public.) The latest report contains a risk management framework containing an analysis for different types of risks, including financial risks (funding), adoption risks and security and privacy risks. It’s noteworthy that safety risks do not appear at all. In fact, the safety aspect is not addressed in the entire report, apart from general conjectures that eHealth technologies will improve patient safety. As mentioned in my previous blog, there is significant indications that this is not necessarily so. The absence of making safety a priority in the pan-Canadian summary care record architecture standards may very well become a major problem down the road. (see recent commentary of Ross Anderson in BMJ, who believes that summary care records will do more harm than good.) The failure of addressing safety in pan-Canadian EHR standards as a primary objective is also in stark contrast with the objectives of regulators (Health Canada, FDA), who are primarily concerned about safety of EHR software. It it time to redefine CHI’s mandate to include safety as another quality objective, next to privacy and security?

Written by Jens

July 2nd, 2010 at 10:36 am

Posted in Quality,Safety

2 Responses to 'Safety – a missing mandate in Canada’s national EHR project?'

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  1. […] follow up to Jens’ post on Safety mandates in Canada, I agree that this is an important aspect that needs to be […]

  2. I think the challenge is that safety, efficiency, patient centeredness etc. are all abstract concepts. They need to be tied to specific processes, and those processes are what we support through health information systems. But from experience I do know that the health system objectives (safety, efficiency etc.) are terms that resonate with clinicians. Saying a clinical information system is semantically interoperable is meaningless to clinicians – saying the CIS is safe, and efficient is meaningful.


    7 Jul 10 at 10:42 am

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