February 28, 2017 (Toronto) – Ensuring Canadian health care is up to speed with eHealth technologies requires strong leadership at all levels of the health system, according to new recommendations from the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) and Canada Health Infoway (Infoway).
eHealth technologies, including electronic medical records and information systems across all sectors, have proven to increase efficiency, improve patient safety, and lead to better health outcomes for patients. Still, across the globe, about 70 percent of eHealth projects in health organizations fail due to poor leadership and planning, insufficient funding, and inadequate uptake.
To ensure these technologies are adopted effectively, RNAO and Infoway released the Adopting eHealth solutions: Implementation Strategies best practice guideline (BPG) today. Its 26 evidence-based recommendations provide implementation strategies to propel Canada's health system into the 21st century and beyond.
"eHealth technologies must be successfully integrated to advance the agenda of putting patients first," says Doris Grinspun, chief executive officer (CEO) of RNAO. "eHealth will facilitate care co-ordination, and expedite the move from assessment to treatment.”
RNAO's internationally acclaimed BPGs support the implementation and evaluation of evidence-based practice throughout the health system.
"We are very proud of this groundbreaking best practice guideline," says Infoway President and CEO Michael Green. “Nurses help drive the tremendous access, quality and productivity benefits that accrue every year through the use of digital health, and the guideline we are releasing today is just one of many ways nurses are driving improved patient outcomes through the effective use of innovative solutions."
To successfully integrate new eHealth technologies, the guideline recommends health organizations establish formalized structures that engage health executives, clinicians and patients throughout all phases of implementation. The creation of specialized chief nursing information officers (CNIO) is a critical element to advance clinical adoption. Education and training is essential, and must be supported by the appropriate eHealth education infrastructure in health organizations and academic institutions. Nurses and other health professionals should take responsibility for being up-to-date with role-specific eHealth competencies.
"We live in the digital age, when technology has enhanced so many aspects of our lives. Yet we have not seen the same advancement in our health system," says registered nurse (RN) Maureen Charlebois, co-chair of the guideline's expert development panel, and chief executive officer at Achieving Care Excellence Consulting Services. "It is imperative we adopt eHealth solutions to enable a stronger health system, advance interprofessional practice and improve the health of Canadians."
National and jurisdictional eHealth agencies must collaborate to establish an effective governance structure that provides strong, co-ordinated leadership that works in conjunction with regulatory bodies and professional associations to achieve its eHealth goals, the guideline says. They must also ensure the necessary telecommunications infrastructure is in place in remote communities, and develop a strategy to mitigate the initial costs for health organizations to adopt eHealth solutions.
"Leaders at all levels must buy in if Canada is to achieve its eHealth goals," says RN Diane Salois-Swallow, chief information officer at Mackenzie Health and co-chair of the guideline's expert panel. "From frontline staff to the heads of national agencies, everyone has a role to play."
RNAO is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve. For more information about RNAO, visit RNAO.ca or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
RNAO’s Best Practice Guidelines program is funded by the Ontario government’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and provides the best available evidence for patient care across a wide spectrum of health-care settings. Over 50 guidelines have been developed to date. They represent a substantial contribution towards building excellence in Ontario’s health system. They are used by nurses, other health professionals and organizations across Canada and abroad. To learn more about RNAO’s guidelines, please visit RNAO.ca/bestpractices.
Canada Health Infoway helps to improve the health of Canadians by working with partners to accelerate the development, adoption and effective use of digital health across Canada. Through our investments, we help deliver better quality and access to care and more efficient delivery of health services for patients and clinicians. Infoway is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government. For more information about Canada Health Infoway visit: www.infoway-inforoute.ca.
– 30 –
For more information on the new guideline, or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario