Canada sets up e-health innovation lab

Centre (cq) for Global eHealth Innovation

Canada Health Infoway and the Toronto-based Centre for Global eHealth Innovation launched a new laboratory focused on the development of leading-edge electronic health record (EHR) systems.

Infoway, the federally funded nonprofit organization charged with spearheading development of e-health systems in Canada, has provided $550,000 in funding for the new eHealth Collaboratory, which will be operated at the center. The University of Toronto and its University Health Network manage the center.

The collaboratory focuses on the development of interoperable EHR systems. “There are still many disparate health information systems that cannot communicate with one another,” said Richard Alvarez, Infoway's president and chief executive officer. “We're helping to solve this problem by encouraging collaboration among vendors, clinicians and technology experts.”

The center wants industry to help develop the physicians’ office of the future and has issued a request for expression of interest to vendors. Responses are Sept. 15.

Products will be tested in what the center describes as the first multitasking simulation laboratory dedicated to the study of e-health. The lab is equipped with multimedia technologies, props and stage seats, which can simulate a variety of health care environments.

These include a physician's office, complete with furnishings, lighting, appropriate noise and space limitations, and staffed by trained actors and health care professionals. The environments re-create clinical workflow, including interruptions and unforeseen events.

Clients interested in health care technology solutions – including hospitals and clinics – can use the demonstration environment to evaluate vendor products before purchasing them. The goal is to make the collaboratory self-sustaining through the delivery of value-added services such as interoperability demonstrations and usability assessments.

The collaboratory is Infoway’s first investment under its Innovation and Adoption Program, launched last year to support technology innovation and adoption in clinical practice. The program will focus on the use of emerging technologies that add new capabilities to EHRs and on initiatives that help overcome adoption barriers for clinicians.

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