Today Canada Health Infoway launches a campaign, Access 2022, that will encourage health care systems across the country to provide digital access to health information and access to healthcare providers.

By calling the campaign “a movement,” the federal agency aims to engage industry, health care providers, provinces and territories, and citizens to modernize the interactions between patients and their healthcare providers. The Access 2022 campaign ties into the agency’s corporate plan for 2018-2019 to bring stakeholders together to increase Canadians access to health information and prepare for a multi-jurisdictional system. It will also further the use of already-launched PrescribeIT, designed to be a nationwide prescription service, currently live to some extent in Ontario, Alberta, and most recently New Brunswick.

President and CEO of Canada Health Infoway Michael Green is in Montreal this week to attend the body’s partnership conference. There, he hopes to launch the campaign in earnest, marking Digital Health Week.

“Now is a good time to launch because everything’s in place to make it ready,” he says in an interview. “Provinces have the information and systems in place. Physicians have the electronic records. The next part is making it visible to the Canadian population.”

Canada Health Infoway was formed as a not-for-profit organization funded by Health Canada in 2001 with a mandate to unlock value for the health care system by taking a pan-Canadian focus to improve the patient experience and the health of all Canadians.

What started as an effort to create data repositories of electronic health information in each province transitioned to modernizing physician centres. Electronic medical records were put in place for primary care physicians, reaching 80 per cent of them, according to Green. Now it’s ready to connect the final step in the health information chain – the patient.

“We see an opportunity where digital technology can help improve access to information,” Green says. “There’s even potential to attend an appointment over Facetime instead of doing a face-to-face visit and plan resources more effectively.”

Funding for the improved digital access will come at least in part from $300 million committed by the federal government in 2017, to be spent over five years to expand PrescribeIT and other “virtual care.” Some of that money is already being spent on Access Atlantic, a collaboration between Maritime provinces New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.

By 2022, Green hopes to have a fully deployed and working example of a digital health doctor-to-patient delivery system in the Atlantic provinces. While Canada’s healthcare system is an assembly of 13 different systems run by the provinces and territories, that doesn’t mean there can’t be collaboration.

“We’re trying to help catalyze some of that work so you don’t have to reinvent the same processes in different processes,” he says. “There is great demand for these services across the country.”

Benefits will include unnecessary visits to the doctor’s office just to get a prescription renewal. Also, there will be no risk that a doctor’s handwriting is misread by the pharmacist.

Patients will be able to book their appointments with physicians online and see what time they have available.

“It will help individuals save on time and travel,” Green says. “Across Canada, demand outstrips supply, so doctors’ offices are always full. With the right technology, we can help make sure that patients are seeing the right doctors for the right reasons.”

Access 2022 will also include digital access to mental health services. Green points to a Crisis Text Line launched Nov. 6 with partner Kids Help Phone. After being tested in Manitoba since February, the SMS message service will be rolled-out nationwide, allowing for French and English access to crisis responders. Previously, IT World Canada covered the stoppage of similar services from Canada Suicide Prevention Service.

Here’s a campaign video on Access 2022 available via Youtube:



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