Leveraging Information Technologies to Transform and Sustain British Columbia’s Health Care Sector

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Much has been written about the promise of health IT to derive operational efficiency for our health systems, to increase patient safety, to ease the work life of health practitioners and even to transform the way health care is delivered. However, these promises have been elusive – with cost-overruns and lagging rates of adoption common across Canada. Health IT has become politically charged and citizens are skeptical and wonder why it needs to cost so much. Many health care managers are putting off the necessary investments in technology, faced with competing budget priorities of immediate health care needs in our emergency rooms, surgical suites and clinics, or dealing with investments that have real, but far-off return.

This paper provides a forward-thinking perspective on the role information technology could play in British Columbia’s (BC) health care system by 2020 and the impact it could have on BC’s economic development in relation to Outlook 2020, an initiative of The Business Council of British Columbia. Based on international and domestic evidence, this paper re-affirms the promise that health IT is important for health system transformation and better patient outcomes. It consolidates the current state of the science to create new momentum. Recommendations are put forward on how to restart a positive conversation about ways to all stakeholders can come together to achieve the ultimate goal of using health information technology (IT) to help create a sustainable health care system and an economic engine for BC and for Canada.

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