Telehealth uses videoconferencing and supporting technologies to put patients in touch with health professionals over distances. It is especially useful in remote areas where patients have to travel long distances to meet health professionals, and especially to meet with specialists. Telehealth systems will also be used for continuing professional education over long distances, and to assist local physicians in obtaining consultations from specialists located elsewhere in the province.

The EHR system will be used during telehealth consultations, for example to access and view a diagnostic test or lab result.  

Public Health Information Project

The Public Health Information program currently has two projects:

  1. The Environmental Health/Health Protection project is a project that will support public health staff in programs addressing air and water quality, food safety and tobacco enforcement, and is intended to improve public access to boil water advisories, facility inspection results and other important public health information. It will require access to the EHR system in order to receive and exchange information about lab results, immunization data and adverse drug reaction data. It will also be able to view diagnostic images in the CDI portion of the EHR as required.
  2. Panorama is the Pan-Canadian health surveillance system funded by Infoway. BC is managing this project on behalf of all Canadian jurisdictions and is, in partnership with Yukon, the first jurisdiction to roll it out.  The implementation of Panorama in BC will replace the current iPHIS system currently used by BC’s public health community.

The purpose of Panorama is to give public health officials in Canada the ability to collect, share and analyse health information for managing communicable diseases like SARS. The goal is to improve the responses to potential and actual epidemics and emerging diseases that spread quickly across the country.

In addition, Panorama includes a BC-specific Family Health functionality to address the needs of maternal, infant, child and youth health and adult health in BC and Yukon. Family Health is described by the provinces as being intended to assist public health staff to provide health services targeted to individuals.  Public health practitioners will assess patients, provide guidance, and collect data regarding general health, growth, developmental milestones, feeding practices, hearing, speech, vision, nutrition, dental issues, safety, and injury prevention.

This seems to mean that Family Health will be a system for targeting individuals, families and communities and provide them with specific assistance in health care, prevention and promotion. It will enable sharing of confidential personal health information about these individuals and families among public health staff across programs.

The first roll-out of Panorama, the BC and Yukon Communicable Diseases and Outbreak modules was scheduled for 2009 at the BC Centre for Disease Control, with links to the provider and client registries and to PLIS planned for 2010.