eHealth research funding from Health Canada

Here’s an interesting call for research proposals from Health Canada titled “Innovations in the Health System: eHealth“. Deadline for submissions is May 4, 2005. One million has been set aside to fund up to six projects.

The objective of the research grants is as follows:

The Health Policy Research Program (HPRP) is seeking to enhance the evidence base available to support the adoption and implementation of eHealth technologies that will result in better health outcomes and create efficiencies within the Canadian health system.

The specific objectives are to determine critical factors which affect:

  • adoption, implementation, and sustainability of eHealth;
  • outcomes of eHealth implementation; and
  • governance challenges associated with eHealth applications.

Results from this research will assist federal, provincial and territorial decision-makers as well as other stakeholders in their ongoing policy work to promote a shared vision for the adoption, implementation, and sustainability of eHealth in the health sector.

Here’s the listing of the research themes that funds will cover:

1. Barriers to the adoption, implementation, and sustainability of ICTs in the health system

Adoption and implementation of ICTs is slower in health than in many other sectors. The substantial up-front costs of implementing ICTs as well as the challenges of automating the health system and even the desktops of health professionals are all contributing factors. It has generally been recognized that the path from early adoption to full scale implementation requires a firm commitment by governments and health professionals to a change management strategy. While many theories exist on successful adoption, there are currently no clear guidelines to lay the framework for the successful design, development and implementation of ICTS in healthcare.

Research is needed on:

  • the processes and strategies, including the roles of governments and health professionals, that have led to the successful adoption and implementation of eHealth;
  • how barriers to adoption, implementation, and sustainability of ICTs in the health system have been addressed;
  • whether the barriers have been quantified and evaluated and, if so, how;
  • the key factors and strategies for success and their applicability across the health system.

2. Outcomes of eHealth implementation

It is anticipated that wide-spread implementation of eHealth applications will result in numerous benefits such as improved health status, health system performance, and evidence for decision-making, as well as the recruitment, retention, and training of health professionals. It is also recognized that different eHealth investments yield different returns and implementation may result in unexpected impacts.

Research is needed on:

  • the outcomes (anticipated and unanticipated) of implementation of eHealth applications;
  • whether the outcomes support the federal government’s vision of integrating sustainable development into operations and how;
  • whether the outcomes have been quantified and evaluated and, if so, how;
  • changes in health status and health business processes when adoption of ICTs is successful.

3. Governance issues

Governance broadly refers to the interaction of processes, institutions and traditions that determines how decisions are made (for example, policies, guidelines, regulations, legislation). The growing use of ICTs in the health sector is translating into multiple challenges for health regulators. These challenges include the provision of services across jurisdictions, the development of electronic clinical guidelines, and the need for multi-jurisdictional authorization for access to information. The governance of eHealth will involve a highly coordinated commitment from a large number of stakeholders and decision-makers with different needs and priorities. As technology evolves, leadership will be required on several different fronts to address new questions, new issues and the changing roles of stakeholders.

Research is needed on:

  • the ongoing and anticipated governance issues;
  • options for addressing governance issues;
  • how the roles of those who collect, produce, and disseminate the information are affected.

I think this call for proposals is a great sign of potential future research opportunities in ehealth.