Tories take aim at ehealth

Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives will scrap agency if elected, Hu­dak pledges

Ottawa Citizen - - CANADA - KEITH LES­LIE

TORONTO • The Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives would phase out eHealth On­tario and put health pro­fes­sion­als in charge of de­vel­op­ing elec­tronic med­i­cal records, Op­po­si­tion Leader Tim Hu­dak said Tues­day.

“EHealth in its cur­rent form has been a dis­as­ter,” Hu­dak told re­porters.

“The old bu­reau­cracy at eHealth, you won’t rec­og­nize, you won’t see that old eHealth any­more.”

The agency was the cen­tre of what the Tories called a “bil­lion-dol­lar boon­dog­gle” in 2009 over un­ten­dered con­tracts and ex­pense abuses by well-paid con­sul­tants, and has dou­bled spend­ing since then but still hasn’t devel­oped elec­tronic health records, added Hu­dak.

“To date the Lib­eral government has thrown $2 bil­lion down the drain with next to noth­ing to show for it,” he said.

“We want to see trans­for­ma­tional change when it comes to eHealth.”

EHealth ques­tioned Hu­dak’s num­bers and said they don’t know where he got the $2-bil­lion fig­ure from.

The government “must stop throw­ing good money af­ter bad” and give doc­tors, phar­ma­cists and hos­pi­tals con­trol of the project to find a new way to de­velop elec­tronic health records, said Hu­dak.

“We ac­tu­ally are go­ing to hand the de­ci­sion-mak­ing over to health pro­fes­sion­als to run that board, no more top-down bu­reau­cracy with po­lit­i­cal ap­pointees that have wasted money,” he said.

The Lib­eral government pointed out doc­tors are al­ready in­volved in the devel­op­ment of elec­tronic med­i­cal records that they would use for their pa­tients.

Hu­dak also wants the government to use off-the-shelf and open-source soft­ware in­stead of “rein­vent­ing the wheel” as On­tario de­vel­ops elec­tronic records.

“Let them use what’s al­ready out there and save tax­pay­ers money,” he said.

In­com­ing pre­mier Kath­leen Wynne said elec­tronic health records were ex­tremely im­por­tant, and sug­gested she wouldn’t want to close down eHealth.

“If we are go­ing to con­tinue to make de­ci­sions based on ev­i­dence, if we are go­ing to pro­vide bet­ter ser­vice to the peo­ple of On­tario in health care, we have got to have elec­tronic con­nec­tiv­ity,” said Wynne. “We have got to have an in­crease in the elec­tronic records.”

The New Democrats pointed out that it was the Con­ser­va­tives who set up an agency called Smart Sys­tems to cre­ate elec­tronic health records — which the Lib­er­als later scrapped and re­named eHealth.

“Now they’re say­ing if they come back into power they would scrap eHealth and de­velop what, Smart Sys­tems Two?” won­dered NDP health critic France Geli­nas.

The Lib­eral health min­is­ter in 2009, David Ca­plan, was forced to re­sign fol­low­ing the au­di­tor’s report into the orig­i­nal scan­dal over un­ten­dered con­tracts and ex­pense abuses at eHealth.


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