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My Alberta eHealth Journey

my alberta ehealth journey

Today, I will reflect on my Alberta eHealth journey over the past 30 years. We finally have a pretty good system in place after many struggles.

Recently, while helping with my wife’s stroke recovery, I have made extensive use of Alberta’s online Connect Care system. I can communicate directly with doctors and other care provides, schedule appointments and tests, and review results. We have come a long way since my journey started.

Back in the mid 90’s, Alberta had over 200 local health boards, including 150 stand-alone hospitals. By 2000, these had been amalgamated into regional health authorities. Today, we have one system with unified administration, governance and information systems.

Consider that in 1996, I was hired to review all of the province’s health-related information systems. At the time, these contained over 30 different health records and 15 health financial systems. It was a mess, with limited adoption of standards and almost no interoperability.

Ten years later, I worked for a national consortium, Canada Health Infoway, to develop a strategy for accelerating adoption of Electronic Health Records by Canada’s doctors, nurses and pharmacists. At the time, EHR was a dream for which there was no shared vision.

Now, another 20 years of work and investment has resulted in pretty good health information systems in Canadian jurisdictions. And, we are reaping the benefits.

My Alberta eHealth Journey – Alberta Connect Care and More

Using a system of systems approach, we have accomplished unification of more than 1300 different information systems in the Alberta Health System. What’s more, community physicians’ Electronic Medical Records systems can interoperate with Albert Netcare through a portal. We are getting very close to accessing all health and medical records through one connection.

On top of that, we link all the laboratory tests. Text and e-mail messaging between patients and providers is becoming a routine procedure. Well done. I feel my small efforts over the past 30 years helped us move in the right direction.

You can review the Alberta Connect Care roadmap here. And, if you are interested in the “system of systems” approach, read my 2011 White Paper on the subject.


  1. Walter S says:

    Wow,John. Good work for Alberta,but,sadly, the same cannot be said about healthcare in BC. As a semi-retired physician, I think that I’m able to comment accurately on the status here. Basically, there’s zero interoperability between EMRs, or if you wish, EHRs. In fact, it has gotten worse. I used to be able to log in to our health authority “Power Chart” within about 30 seconds in my office (but not via my EMR, but via my browser. Then, with further “upgrades” to Power Chart, that became a nightmare. Of course, Power Chart users (ie, the ER, for example) have zero access to my very valuable EMR. This leads to delays and huge wastage, such as duplicate labs and imaging, and needless investigation, had the treating physician had access to my charts. Sorry, but the system has a very long way to go before being a useful system. My view is that there’s far too much emphasis on confidentiality here. Much more than my bank access, for example. For Island Health, my local HA, I have to change passwords every 6 weeks, and go through multiple levels of authentication. What’s ludicrous is that every station in my hospital acts independently, so that if I have never logged in at a particular terminal, then the first log-on can take many minutes to get on. As an end-user,very frustrating!

    • John VE6EY says:

      Hi Walt. Although not mentioned in my article, I was involved with the creation of the original Health Information Act in Alberta. It was meant as enabling legislation. Over the years, it has pained me to see many bureaucrats use the HIA to create roadblocks to many simple things.

  2. Walt S says:

    John, thanks for your reply. My greatest satisfaction when I ceased being a FSFP was that I no longer had to ever interact with Power Chart. To me, it was a fiasco and totally detracted me from providing bedside care in the hospital. I was constantly shoo’d off to some corner where there was a keyboard and terminal that became insanely complicated to navigate!

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