Alberta made history on Tuesday by becoming the first province in Canada to launch an electronic health record for patient care.

The Alberta Electronic Health Record is a province-wide health information system linking physicians, pharmacists, hospitals, home care and other health care providers across the province. The record stores pertinent patient information online so that health care providers can access a patient’s prescription history, allergies and laboratory test results by computer.

The province’s premier, Ralph Klein, said that with the launch of the system Alberta is now setting the e-health standard for the rest of the country.

“The work we have accomplished on electronic health records, and the partnerships we have established, form the model for other provinces to follow,” he said.

Gary Mar, the minister of health and wellness said health care providers in Alberta now have access to important patient information when and where they need it. Mar said health care workers will now be able to offer the “best possible care” for their patients.

The new e-health system is the result of collaboration among the Alberta government, provincial health care stakeholders, Alberta SuperNet, IBM Canada, and Canada Health Infoway.

Alberta Health and Wellness spent $59 million to develop the Alberta Electronic Health Record, including its implementation up to spring 2004. It is expected all Alberta health regions, one-third of physicians’ offices, and half of all pharmacies will be using electronic health records by spring 2004.