Setting standards the Infoway

As part of its ongoing support of health information standards, Canada Health Infoway (CHI) has invested $1.4 million in three new standards projects.

The initiatives – in telehealth, teleradiology interoperability and National e-Claims Standard (NeCST) messaging – are being sponsored by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) and the Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation (CCHSA). Health information standards are viewed as a key step towards achieving an 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,” CHI said in a statement. Infoway will invest $1.1 million in Phase 5 of the NeCST messaging project, a collaboration between the public and private sectors, as well as national provider associations. It plans to harness knowledge gained for future EHR projects.

Earlier this year, NeCST became one of the first projects in the world to receive official recognition under the most recent version three of Health Level Seven (HL7 v3), widely viewed as 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 coordination services for the project.

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

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