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ARCHIVED - Canada's Health Infostructure

Warning This content was archived on June 24 2013.

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Information Highway Advisory Council

In April 1994, the federal government formed the Information Highway Advisory Council (IHAC). The Council's mandate was to decide how best to develop and use the information highway for the economic, cultural and social advantage of all Canadians. IHAC examined 15 policy issues, including such questions as how to ensure universal access to essential services at reasonable cost and how to achieve an appropriate balance between competition and regulation.

The Council submitted its Phase 1 final report in September 1995. This report emphasized that Canadians, regardless of where they live, need easy, fast access to information if they are to thrive in the information economy. Council members singled out four areas for the strategic application of information technologies to enhance the quality of life in Canada, improve service and reduce costs. One of these areas was health.

According to IHAC, Canada needed to make strategic investments to ensure that the information highway and its applications would make Canada's health sector a model for the rest of the world.

IHAC envisioned many benefits of a national health information infrastructure. It would:

  • promote the development of a standardized, longitudinal health information database accessible to researchers and policy makers;
  • allow timely on-line diagnostic consultations to improve care and reduce costs;
  • provide essential health services to currently under-served populations;
  • provide care close to home, eliminating costly, inconvenient transportation; and
  • allow consumers access to information that enables them to make better-informed decisions about personal health and the health care system.

One of the Council's 300 recommendations, (Rec. 11.15) called for the creation of an advisory council to identify applications for new information technology in the health sector.