Infoway’s Projectathon 2023: Building Blocks towards Connected Care

By Abhi Kalra

The Canadian health system has faced unprecedented strain during the global pandemic, which has accelerated urgency to alleviate underlying pain points and continue to build a health system that is connected, equitable and sustainable. Critical issues include inequitable access to care; insatiable demand across the system; the ongoing health human resources crisis and a shortage of health professionals and informatics/interoperability experts.

Infoway’s Projectathon 2023: Building Blocks towards Connected Care

Amid these challenges, timely access to and exchange of consistent and reliable health information can significantly improve care and drive positive health outcomes. To help realize a “connected care” health system, Infoway published a multi-year Shared Pan-Canadian Interoperability Roadmap (Roadmap). Developed in consultation with the provinces, territories and federal stakeholders, among other key stakeholders, the Roadmap outlines common initiatives that drive value toward the achievement of shared strategic goals, including patient access to their health record and improving care coordination and collaboration through timely, secure exchange of patient health information.

One such initiative is the pan-Canadian Patient Summary Specification (PS-CA) which will provide a “snapshot” of pertinent patient health information across care settings to improve health outcomes, provide better transitions of care, and reduce administrative burden for clinicians. The overarching principle adopted for the PS-CA is to maintain close alignment to the International Patient Summary standard, while enabling jurisdictions to properly represent their desired clinical workflows.

Participating Vendors

In October 2022, the first iteration of the PS-CA was reviewed and approved. As a best practice approach in testing and validation of a specification package, Infoway then hosted its second Projectathon from March 20-23, 2023. The Projectathon convened public and private sector implementers to demonstrate live interoperability capability of solutions in conformance with pan-Canadian specifications.

Over the testing days, nine vendors completed over 200 tests — individually and collaboratively — related to:

  • Security and authorization
  • Transport of a patient summary (e.g., Canadian FHIR Exchange – CA:FeX)
  • Assessment of well-formed patient summary documents against PS-CA and PS-ON (Ontario Patient Summary implementation guidance)

This successful collaborative effort showcased significant vendor capabilities across six key integration profiles critical to securely exchanging well-formed patient summaries. In addition, vendors began to test their systems in preparation for upcoming patient summary trial implementations, particularly in Ontario and Alberta. The impressive commitment, hard work and collegial cooperation of the participating vendors cannot be overstated.

Indeed, vendors highlighted this peer collaboration as holding substantive value. End-to-end interoperability is a complex, multi-year undertaking which requires partnership among many sectors and stakeholders. We are grateful to the jurisdictions, our Projectathon partners IHE Catalyst and Kereval, and the nine participating vendors for their immense support and contributions.

While this event represents a significant early milestone in the Roadmap journey, we look forward to the work ahead in expanding these events, in support of jurisdictional and vendor stakeholders to advance the development and implementation of pan-Canadian standards for the priority areas identified in the Roadmap. As conformance and capability demonstration events like the Projectathon mature over the coming years, pan-Canadian health care interoperability will advance — richening the capabilities of our health ecosystem and realizing a modernized, connected health system that improves access to information and quality of care for all Canadians.

Learn more about interoperability, the Shared Pan-Canadian Interoperability Roadmap and the PS-CA by tuning in to our recent podcast episode:

About the author
Abhi Kalra

Abhi Kalra

Abhi Kalra is a health care technology leader with extensive experience in designing and delivering large scale, complex, multi-year digital transformational programs across North America, Europe and Asia.

In his current role as Executive Vice President, Digital Health Interoperability with Infoway, he leads the strategy to advance and drive adoption of pan-Canadian digital health interoperability and further strengthening our connected systems in collaboration with our jurisdictional stakeholders, to achieve the goal of enabling Canadians with access to their health information and achieve improved health outcomes.