Has ehealth become toxic?

by Hans on 2010/02/24

A recent article titled “The chopping block: Which way Infoway?” makes me wonder if the term ehealth has become toxic in Canada.

First, a little bit of context. The National Post has been publishing a series of articles/comments on potential things to cut in order to bring (federal) government spending under control. Canada Health Infoway (Infoway) was clearly a potential target for the newspaper.

Given the eHealth Ontario spending scandal resulted in resignations, firings, and nearly $1B in funds being spent, I can understand public suspicion over anything ehealth related, particularly if it is related to government spending. In a similar vein, when speaking to some folks, I mentioned how I was interested in ehealth research and asked “are you sure?”, obviously trying to distance themselves from the scandal.

I can understand how people might be wary of the term ehealth given some of the setbacks in terms of not really delivering on the hype and promises, but does this signal a lack of support for the work that needs to be done? Perhaps this is just one step in the evolution of the field where there will be no distinction in how information and services are delivered. A colleague of mine recently reminded me of a comment I made a while back: the term ehealth will cease to exist in a few years time. Much like the term “e-business” has disappeared from the vernacular, I am confident that ehealth will no longer be used. Use of electronic tools will become part of how things are done without the need to bring attention to it.

So, even if the term is a bit “toxic” within the Canadian context at the moment, perhaps it is just one step in the journey.

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{ 2 comments }

Michael Martineau February 24, 2010 at 9:37 am

Late last year I was at a Christmas get together organized by a volunteer organization for whom my wife is a board member. In making conversation with the spouse of another board member, I was asked what I did for a living. I said that I was an “eHealth Consultant”. Well, the reaction from this person and other around him was painful, to say the least. Clearly they were upset by the news reports about misspending at eHealth Ontario and they wondered aloud if I too was “getting rich”.

Yes, I think that the term “eHealth is tainted”. The recent press reports reviewing AG reports on EHR programs chose to use the term “eHealth” to describe the scope of these audits. eHealth seems to be the term to use for any healthcare IT initiative that the media wants to paint in a negative light.

Michael Martineau
eHealthMusings.ca

Mark Nelson February 26, 2010 at 3:37 pm

I guess we will know for sure when this blog changes its name!

Mark N

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