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🇨🇦🍁⚕️ The Government of Canada introduces the Connected Care for Canadians Act

Monday, 17 June 2024 12:00.PM

- Improving patients' safety and access to their health information -

On June 6, 2024 the Honourable Mark Holland, Minister of Health, introduced Bill C-72 the Connected Care for Canadians Act. This Act is about enabling Canadians to securely access their own health data, which will empower patient's decision-making and improve the care they receive from health providers in Canada. This Act outlines Canada's plan to enable a modern, connected care system, in which health information can be securely accessed by patients and shared between providers, when needed.

Enabling timely and secure access to personal health information is critical to saving lives and improving health care for Canadians. Every Canadian – and their health care providers – should be able to access their health information simply, securely, and digitally. Yet today, less than 40% of Canadians report accessing some of their health information electronically and only 35% of physicians share patient information outside their practice.

Delayed access to personal health information causes harm to patients – it can result in unnecessary or duplicative tests, longer wait times and hospital stays, and medication errors. When health providers and patients have access to health information, there are decreased re-admission rates, increased accuracy of diagnosis, increased quality of care, and fewer deaths. Connectivity will ease the burden on patients, families, and caregivers who must often recall and repeat their medical history. It also reduces stress on health care providers who are having to make decisions without access to all of the patient's information.

Canadians should feel safe knowing that their medical records are secure and protected, for their own use, and for the use of their health care providers. The legislation would require all IT companies providing digital health services in Canada to adopt common standards and allow for protected and secure information exchange across various systems.

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments are working together through the implementation of a Pan-Canadian Interoperability Roadmap that sets the path forward to connected care through common interoperability and data standards. The legislation aims to accelerate adoption of these standards and enable secure information sharing across platforms, but would only apply in provinces and territories that do not have similar legislation in place.

The Government of Canada remains committed to collaborating with its provincial and territorial partners in the development of the regulation to ensure the protection and secure sharing of Canadians' own health data and to improve patient outcomes, while ensuring existing strict privacy legislation is respected.

"Data saves lives and it's time for us to move past the archaic and siloed approach to managing and sharing patient information. This legislation is about enabling Canadians to access their own health data and to use that information to make better decisions about their health care, no matter where in Canada they are receiving it. It will also allow health care professionals to deliver higher quality and coordinated care and make more informed patient decisions. Ultimately, this legislation will lead to improved health outcomes and will also help lay the foundation for a modernized, connected health system for all Canadians."
- The Honourable Mark Holland, Minister of Health of Canada

Quick Facts

• As part of the February 2023 Working Together to Improve Health Care for Canadians plan, federal, provincial, and territorial (FPT) governments are working to modernize the health care system with standardized health data and digital tools. This includes efforts to:
  •  Collect and share high-quality and comparable de-personalized information to measure progress being made through common indicators to improve health care for Canadians
  •  Adopt common interoperability standards guided by the Pan-Canadian Interoperability Roadmap to better connect health care systems and allow Canadians and their health care providers to securely access electronic health information to improve care
  •  Promote alignment between provincial and territorial health data policies and legislative frameworks for consistent approaches to health information management and stewardship that maintains appropriate privacy protections
  •  Advance common principles for the management of health data through a Pan-Canadian Health Data Charter that reaffirms a commitment to a person-centered, ethical approach to health data, public engagement, equity and Indigenous data sovereignty
  •  Collect and share public health data to support Canada's preparedness and response to public health events
• Data blocking is the interference or obstruction of access to electronic health information by authorized users.
• The Government of Canada is not creating a digital ID, platform, or database of health information. This Act enables, not compels, secure access for patients and secure information sharing between health care providers.
• Many jurisdictions such as the United States, Australia, and the European Union have published national digital health interoperability roadmaps and have enacted legislation to improve connected care in their country.

SOURCE: Health Canada (HC)