Canada running out of time to meet 2010 EMR goal

"If the health records of Canadians were a music collection, we'd still be dealing with vinyl," CBC News reports, offering an analogy we wish we'd thought of first. Canada Health Infoway, a government-funded not-for-profit that provides grants for health IT projects across the country, wants to have EMRs for at least half of Canada's population by the end of 2010. It's perhaps one-third of the way there. In fact, Canada trails just one other industrialized country when it comes to EMR adoption. See if you can guess which one that is, my fellow Americans?

At this point, four of Canada's 10 provinces and all three territories don't even have certification and funding programs for EMR software, so in that sense, the U.S. isn't doing too badly. There are some bright spots, though. Alberta has had a physician EMR incentive program in place since 2001, and about a third of the province's 6,000 eligible doctors have enrolled--though only 210 had gone live as of a month ago. Ontario's health ministry has prepared a video vision of how an interoperable HIT system should work, but, as we reported recently, the eHealth Ontario agency has recently been mired in a contracting scandal.

For more on this rather grim assessment of Canadian EMR efforts:
- see the CBC story
- read about the EMR tribulations of Toronto physician Michelle Greiver on her blog