Provincial tweaking of interoperability standards impedes Canadian EHR network

The U.S. is not alone when it comes to road bumps toward a national electronic health record system: Canada also is struggling to create a nationwide interoperable EHR network, according to an article published this week in British Columbia's The Province.

The non-profit Canada Health Infoway, which provides funding for EHR projects throughout Canada, has set Pan-Canadian standards for EHR interoperability. However, the standards are not binding, and the provinces have adopted the standards in different ways for their own benefit, meaning they no longer line up to share data. 

Moreover, EHR vendors have had to customize their products to meet the different requirements, making interoperability even more elusive.

"Because each electronic system needed to be specifically certified in that particular province, it created 10 different marketplaces instead of a countrywide market," Alan Brookstone, a physician and healthcare information technology consultant, told The Province. "And this slowed down overall adoption rates." 

About 57 percent of Canadian doctors have adopted EHRs, according to the article.

The U.S. hasn't fared much better when it comes to national interoperability. While national standards for the certification of EHRs do exist, there are no national standards for health information exchanges and interoperability; instead, interoperability through marketplace forces has been encouraged.

As a result, many EHR systems in the U.S. are also unable to interact with each other, impeding progress toward a Pan-American network.

To learn more:
- read the article

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