Celebrating 20 Years of Progress

By Michael Green

2021 marks Infoway’s 20th anniversary — a significant milestone for our organization. While we have made tremendous progress in digital health over the past 20 years, there is still more work to be done to ensure that Canadians have the health system they want and deserve. We are committed to continuing that work and to collaborating with Health Canada, the provinces and territories, and all other health system stakeholders, including clinicians and patients.

Our Annual Report 2020-2021 provides details about this progress as well as our achievements over the past year. Here are some of the highlights:

Rapid Response to COVID-19

  • Shortly after the onset of the pandemic, we established a Rapid Adoption of Virtual Care Fund and worked with Health Canada and the provinces and territories to approve 17 projects in four focus areas: virtual visits, e-mental health, remote patient monitoring and access to COVID-19 test results. All projects were operational within 30 days of approval.
  • As of March 31, 2021, 3.5 million Canadians and more than 91,000 health care providers had logged more than five million uses of virtual care solutions as a result of these investment projects.

Virtual Care

  • It’s critically important to continue to expand virtual care, so we were pleased to receive a commitment of $50 million as part of the federal government’s initiative to invest $240.5 million to develop, expand and launch virtual care and mental health tools to support Canadians. We are using the funding to support the federal government’s bilateral agreements with the jurisdictions.
  • We estimate that in 2020, virtual care saved Canadians 90 million hours and $6.1 billion in expenses, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 286,000 metric tonnes.

e-Mental Health

  • Mental health care and resources were in high demand during the pandemic, so we were pleased to support the expansion of Bridge the gapp from Newfoundland and Labrador to Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. This online resource connects people with mental health and substance use resources and information, and is being used by thousands of people per month in each of the three provinces.
  • We also continued to support Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone and an additional service in Quebec called Tel-Jeunes, which both provide mental health support to young Canadians. Crisis Text Line recorded almost 228,000 texting conversations with young people and saved approximately five lives per day last year, and demand for Tel-Jeunes services increased by 30 per cent since the start of the pandemic.


  • By the end of the fiscal year, there were 6,233 prescribers and 4,839 pharmacies enrolled in Canada’s national e-prescribing service, representing increases of 164 per cent for prescribers and 44 per cent for pharmacies.
  • We now have a Memorandum of Understanding in place with all 13 provinces and territories and PrescribeIT® is live in five jurisdictions.
  • We signed significant partnership agreements with Loblaw Inc./Shoppers Drug Mart, Rexall and Pharmacy Brands Canada, increasing our market presence to approximately 60 per cent of all pharmacies across Canada.
  • As well, there are now 17 electronic medical record vendors, representing approximately 95 per cent of the primary care market, and eight pharmacy management system vendors, accounting for 85 per cent of the retail pharmacy market, that have signed on to offer PrescribeIT®.

Digital Health Benefits

  • We estimate that since our inception, Infoway’s investments in digital health initiatives have resulted in more than $43 billion in benefits to Canadians and our health system. That includes $7.4 billion in the past year alone.
  • This represents an excellent return on investment for the $2.45 billion in total funding that Infoway has received from Health Canada.

We are committed to building on our progress of the past 20 years and our momentum of the past fiscal year. We are also committed to ensuring that virtual care continues to expand and that it becomes a mainstay of health care delivery in Canada — a viable option for Canadians and clinicians that will reduce costs, benefit our environment, improve the patient experience, and improve access to care and equity for all Canadians, including Indigenous Peoples and others who are currently underserved by our health system.

I invite you to read our Annual Report 2020-2021, and let me know what you think about our progress and our direction. I’d love to hear from you!

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About the author
Michael Green

Michael Green

Michael Green is a strong leader and a creative, strategic thinker who has an international reputation and a proven track record of transforming health care through the use of digital health. He has leveraged international research and innovation to advance the digital health agenda, create jobs and stimulate economic growth in Canada. Michael has been President and CEO of Canada Health Infoway since August 2014.