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At a two-day meeting in Nova Scotia this week, the four Atlantic premiers agreed to continuing collaboration between their health departments in areas such as the common drug review, primary care, health human resources, and patient-centred interdisciplinary care.

However, they gave particular emphasis to the development of electronic health records (EHRs), and they have directed their health ministers to report back on an action plan for the implementation of EHRs by the end of the summer. They also want to explore ways of accessing some of the $1.2 billion in funding managed by Canada Health Infoway.


While the premiers said EHRs are a way of improving the efficiency of care, they re-emphasized the need for Ottawa to ramp up its funding for health care beginning with a further injection of $3 billion to federal transfers this year.


Canada Health Infoway, the federal foundation charged with the task of accelerating the development of Electronic Health Records (EHRs), says 2004 will be a “breakthrough” year for this initiative.

Canada Infoway is armed with a $1.1 billion endowment from the federal government to invest in EHR projects across the country, and achieve standardization of information systems. “The year ahead will see us make huge strides and the impact will benefit all Canadians,” InfoWay CEO Myrna Francis said in a news release this week.

Alberta is taking a leadership role in EHR development. It is expected all of Alberta's health regions, one-third of physicians' offices, and half of all pharmacies will be using electronic health records by spring 2004.

On December 17th, the city of Drumheller became the first in Canada to link its entire medical community to the Alberta EHR system. Physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other eligible health providers can use the system to access pertinent patient information on-line.