Big plans to improve health IT and healthcare in Alberta, Canada, and people who can pull it off

I’m sitting in an airport lounge waiting for my flight back to Seattle. It has been a whirlwind week of meeting with Microsoft customers and partners and with government leaders across Western Canada. We started our journey close to Seattle in Vancouver, BC, flying next to Regina and then for a series of meetings today in Edmonton. At each stop along the way, I was able to share some of my thoughts and gain insights to best practices in Canada.

WP_20131031_12_11_24_ProThe trip was highlighted during a meeting this afternoon with Alberta Health Minister, Fred Horne (left, below). Minister Horne is no stranger to healthcare. He has career-long experience health especially on the policy side of things. He quickly rattled off facts and figures about health and healthcare in the Province of Alberta. As healthcare expenditures creep closer and WP_20131031_12_42_11_Procloser to consuming 50 percent of the provincial budget, he knows all too well the consequences that would have and also the opportunities to transform health and healthcare by smart use of information communications technology.

Alberta is a leader in health ICT in Canada. They are developing a robust citizen health portal and have positioned Microsoft HealthVault as their preferred model for citizen centric personal health records. They are beginning a journey to standardize hospital information systems across the region and are developing a unique model to transform healthcare delivery into a much more patient-centric service. By developing a system of more appropriately placed incentives, they will enable a business model that, among other things, will help physicians use ICT to deliver and monitor care in patients’ homes.

Aimaget the center of this transformation are some really smart people, including Susan Anderson who serves as Assistant Deputy Minister and CIO of Alberta Health Information and Technology Services. My colleagues and I had lunch with her, and let me tell you, this is a woman on a mission. She also has a track record of success in Canada and around the world that makes me think she can truly accomplish everything on her agenda.

I’d like to thank my Microsoft colleagues for their hospitality during this week’s tour, especially our Microsoft health industry lead in Canada, Peter Jones. As I leave Canada for stops in the US and soon Australia and New Zealand, I will be watching for some big advances in health ICT and healthcare not only from Alberta, but across all of Canada.

Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft

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