Canada Health Infoway invests $1,4 million in NeCST messaging and telehealth/teleradiology projects

Montréal 11 January 2005Canada Health Infoway has signed three standards projects agreements totalling $1,4 million in investments for telehealth, teleradiology interoperability and National e-Claims Standard (NeCST) messaging. Sponsors for these projects are the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) and the Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation (CCHSA).

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These projects are part of Infoway's goal of establishing health information standards, a key step towards achieving the interoperable Electronic Health Record (EHR). Standards integrate the exchange of health information, create the opportunity for cost reduction, and ease the effort required for replication.

Infoway will invest $1,1 million in Phase 5 of the NeCST messaging project, a unique collaboration between the public and private sectors, as well as national provider associations. Canada Health Infoway is already a significant investor in this project and will leverage the knowledge gained for future standards EHR solutions projects.

Earlier this year, NeCST became one of the first projects in the world to receive official recognition under the most recent and advanced version three of Health Level Seven (HL7 v3), the world's most successful messaging standard. NeCST HL7 v3 helps realize the vision of an interoperable EHR through the establishment of consistent national standards for vocabulary, billing and claims settlement. CIHI provides project management and support services for the NeCST initiative.

Investment in this phase of the NeCST project will be used for continued standards definition and to carry the NeCST suite of messages including messaging requirements for pharmacy, vision care, oral health, chiropractic and physiotherapy and physicians, through the HL7 balloting process. Message development completion is slated for March 31, 2005. The balance of the investment amount will go to fund standards projects involving telehealth and teleradiology.

Infoway will invest in an "Interoperability of Teleradiology Systems" project designed to leverage, adapt, adopt and/or develop technical specifications to facilitate interoperability of radiology systems, in particular the ability to share information, between care facilities. The scope of the project includes technical specifications for such capabilities such as collection, storage and management of patient information, medical images and other related radiology products. The first phase of the two-phase project involves the definition of teleradiology business requirements and the creation of an interoperable teleradiology model. CIHI will provide project management and co-ordination services for the project.

Infoway and CCHSA are partnering on an initiative to investigate and develop national CCHSA telehealth standards and an accompanying accreditation programme to meet the needs of telehealth service providers. Accreditation provides organisations with a process to assess and improve the quality of their services and a mechanism for identifying good practices. Upon completion of this project, health care organisations across Canada offering telehealth services will have access to an accreditation programme to help them confirm good practices based on national standards of excellence.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information is an independent, pan-Canadian, not-for-profit organisation working to improve the health of Canadians and the health care system by providing quality health information. CIHI's mandate, as established by Canada's health ministers, is to co-ordinate the development and maintenance of a common approach to health information for Canada. To this end, CIHI is responsible for providing accurate and timely information that is needed to establish sound health policies, manage the Canadian health system effectively and create public awareness of factors affecting good health.

CCHSA is a national, non-profit, independent organisation whose mission is to promote excellence in health care and the effective use of resources in health organisations nationally and internationally in order to improve the delivery of health services. First incorporated in 1958, CCHSA has been involved in developing and testing standards, piloting accreditation programmes, establishing accreditation processes, and building confidence in accredited organisations for many years. CCHSA recognizes that the ultimate beneficiaries of its work are the people of Canada and beyond.

Infoway's mission is to accelerate the development of compatible electronic health information systems across Canada. These systems provide health care professionals with rapid access to complete and accurate patient information, enabling better decisions about treatment and diagnosis. The result is a sustainable, more cost-efficient health care system offering improved patient safety and better quality of care. Infoway is an independent, not-for-profit corporation whose members are the federal, provincial and territorial deputy ministers of health. More news about Canada Health Infoway is available in the VMW June 2004 article Canada Health Infoway signs arrangement with Initiate Systems for client registry.


Leslie Versweyveld

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