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The promise of e-Health – a Canadian perspective


Canadians value their health care system above any other social program. Canada's system of health care faces significant financial and population pressures, relating to cost, access, quality, accountability, and the integration of information and communication technologies (ICTs). The health-system also faces certain unique challenges that include care delivery within a highly decentralised system of financing and accountability, and care delivery to a significant portion of the population sparsely distributed across a landmass of 10 million square kilometres, in areas of extreme climatic conditions. All of these challenges are significant catalysts in the development of technologies that aim to significantly mitigate or eliminate these selfsame challenges.

The system is undergoing widespread review, nationally, and within each province and territory, where the bulk of care provision is financed and managed. The challenges are being addressed by national, regional and provincial initiatives in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

The promise of e-Health lies in the manner and degree to which it can mitigate or resolve these challenges to the health system and build on advancements in ICTs supporting the development of a health infostructure. Canada is actively developing and implementing technological solutions to deliver health information and health care services across the country. These solutions, while exciting and promising, also present new challenges, particularly in regard to acceptable standards, choice of technologies, overcoming traditional jurisdictional boundaries, up-front investment, and privacy and confidentially.

Many organisations and governments are working to address these challenges. The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) will play an increasingly significant role in these initiatives, as the management of health information becomes a more crucial factor in the successful delivery of health care services in the new millennium.


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  2. Personal Communication. Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). December 2001

  3. Ontario Hospital Assocition: Ontario Hospital e-Health Council draft blueprint. December 2001, []

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Correspondence to Richard C Alvarez.

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Alvarez, R.C. The promise of e-Health – a Canadian perspective . eHealth Int 1, 4 (2002).

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