Infoway launches new e-health certification

Canada Health Infoway is launching a new certification service for vendors who create consumer e-health applications such as Microsoft HealthVault and Google Health.

The Toronto-based non-profit organization hopes its new e-Health Certification Service will encourage health IT vendors to take advantage of the considerable progress Canada has made in setting standards and deploying interoperable electronic health records. With interest in consumer health products continuing to grow, ensuring these solutions work well with technologies used to store Canadian health data is essential.

These products can help individuals organize their health information and gather medical records from doctors, hospitals and pharmacies. It can also help doctors keep up-to-date on changes to your digital health records.

“The key word is interoperability and this should be the driving force for technology solutions in all sectors,” John Reid, president and CEO of the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATAAlliance), said. “In the health care sector, you want solutions and information to be portable from one geography to the other and that’s the whole idea behind these standards.”

Bernard Courtois, president and CEO of the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC), also applauded the national standard and said it could boost the confidence of the market considerably.

“It’s a sign that electronic health is making progress and reaching the consumer world, not just the health care system world,” he said. “Canadians will realize that e-health is something they can’t do without in a modern health care system.”

In addition to better interoperability, organizations investing in certified e-health solutions can also expect a high degree of confidence that the products they buy meet stringent security standards.

When applying for certification, a vendor will need to fill out a self-assessment form on how well their product meets Infoway’s standards. After passing this stage, vendors will have to “provide an overview of their privacy policy” and “demonstrate very specific test scripts through their applications,” according to Shelagh Maloney, Infoway’s executive director of external liaison.

“Our ultimate goal is that buyers of these systems, especially the health organizations, will make it a mandatory requirement in their buying process to purchase consumer health platforms certified by Infoway,” she said.

Maloney, however, did not want to comment on the specific costs vendors can expect to pay for going through the certification process.

Courtois said that whatever the costs might be, they need to be affordable in order to allow smaller companies a chance at becoming certified.

Traditionally, the problem with certifications is that there’s just too many of them, he added

“If you have to obtain multiple health certifications, it can waste lots of time and money, and really doesn’t provide much help for the buyers,” Courtois said. “This makes things tougher for smaller companies, but it’s also an expense for larger companies and it would be na

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