eHealth is the use of information and communication technologies to support, educate, inform and connect health care professionals and the people they serve.

Health Canada's eHealth Solutions Unit (eHSU) works to develop eHealth tools to support the use of health technology in Canada's First Nations and Inuit communities to be connected, informed, and ultimately healthier. Their overall aim is to enable front line health care providers working in First Nations and Inuit communities to improve people's health through innovative eHealth partnerships, technologies, tools and services. eHealth is about providing the right information to the right people at the right time.

The benefits of eHealth

As many First Nations and Inuit communities are in remote locations, the development of innovative eHealth partnerships, tools, services and technologies is integral to the overall improvement of First Nations and Inuit health. Some examples of the many benefits that can be realized by communities include:

  • Enhanced access to the information needed to deliver health services, improve client care and respond to emergencies;
  • Increased professional development opportunities for remote health professionals;
  • Improved collaboration, teamwork and service delivery between remote and non-remote health professionals;
  • Innovative health care options;
  • Improved access to a broad range of services through the use of new technologies, processes and partnerships; and
  • Increased job satisfaction among nurses and healthcare providers.

The eHealth toolbox

Please note: not all components of the eHealth toolbox are available in all regions. Please contact the regional office to identify availability.

Developing successful eHealth solutions requires combining knowledge and technology in several key areas. These are the tools that make up the eHealth toolbox.

  1. Connectivity - Enabling electronic communications infrastructure through:
    • High-speed and broadband tele-communications networks
    • Fibre-optic cable;
    • Wireless local area networks (WLANs); and
    • Phone lines.

  2. TeleHealth - Providing remote communities with access to clinical and non-clinical health care professionals from a distance through the use of information communications technologies.

  3. Health information systems - Applications to support service delivery, reporting and program planning

  4. Health information for First Nations and Inuit community members - Facilitating on-line access to health information through:
    • Internet portals;
    • Web mail;
    • Web sites; and
    • Videoconferencing.

  5. Information for health providers - Supporting efforts to ensure that health care providers have access to vital health resources, including:
    • Virtual health libraries;
    • Diagnostic support;
    • Prescription support; and
    • Continuing education.

  6. Privacy protection and standards - Upholding the health privacy of patients within all communications by:
    • Applying Health Level Seven (HL7) standards for the exchange, management and integration of data related to clinical patient care; and
    • Providing on-line privacy training.

Innovative eHealth solutions

The eHealth Solutions Unit has been a pioneer in developing innovative eHealth solutions within Canada's First Nations and Inuit communities and the world. The Alberta First Nations TeleHealth Program (AFNTP) is an initiative aimed at redefining health care service delivery for First Nations communities in the Alberta Region - an area that includes roughly 700,000 hectares of reserve land on which some 58,000 people live on 123 reserves within 44 First Nations. The following four success stories illustrate some of the ways in which the eHealth Solutions Unit is changing the way health care is delivered to First Nations and Inuit communities in Canada.

  • Overcoming the challenges of distance
  • Applying eHealth concepts
  • Focus on the health professional
  • Finding new ways to improve client health

Learn more about eHealth

To learn more about how Health Canada supports eHealth solutions in Canada for First Nations and Inuit communities, please contact the eHealth Solutions Unit in your region.

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