In the News Archive
April 2005

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The RFP Report goes online

The RFP Report is now going to be a free downloadable pdf from the Web at “live” April 1, 2005. As a newsletter, The RFP Report, written by Michael Asner, has provided valuable information and examples of best practices in procurement for over 12 years.

Experience the force of e-learning at the RCMP

In all areas of government, e-learning is rising higher on the radar screen as an important method to train new staff and encourage ongoing learning and professional development. The RCMP has been using e-learning tools since 1996, when they initiated a successful network-based training portal. To build on that success and to achieve more efficiency and cost savings, in 1999 the RCMP ran a competitive process and selected Knowledgelinx, now known as ForceTen, provided by EEDO Knowledgeware Corporation. According to a case study published at the RCMP measured a “return on investment of 600 percent over 12 months…”

ForceTen allows the RCMP to manage its own course offerings. Without having special IT skills, subject-matter experts can develop, publish online and maintain course content. Each object in the content is tagged with meta data, and as content objects are updated in one module they are automatically updated in all other modules – a process similar to the style sheet principle found in most word processors. The software, still being used by the RCMP, is linked to resource/reference materials at Justice Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency. According to Cindy Sims, marketing manager for EEDO, ForceTen operates easily in other languages. She also says users can add other off-the-shelf e-learning software as needed, and, under a maintenance contract, can upgrade to current ForceTen generations as required.

Canada Health Infoway pulls it all together

Canada Health Infoway (CHI or Infoway) is an independent, not-for-profit corporation whose members are the federal, provincial, and territorial deputy ministers of health of Canada. Its stated mission is “to accelerate the development of compatible electronic health information systems across Canada,” with the intended result being “improved patient access (regardless of location) and safety, better quality care and a sustainable, more cost-efficient healthcare system.”

Interoperability of the various health and information systems used in Canada is key to achieving a pan-Canadian system and providing the opportunity for better, more informed health care for patients, administrative efficiencies and cost-savings. Infoway has been making investments and working cooperatively with the various governments to achieve that interoperability.

In early March 2005, Infoway announced an investment strategy of $100 million to improve the detection and response outbreaks of communicable disease through pan-Canadian public health surveillance.

The Public Health Surveillance Strategy focuses on “the management of communicable diseases, major outbreaks and immunization programs, enhanced capacity to provide health alerts and ensure effective and efficient data and reports are produced.” Using common or “interoperable” technology solutions will facilitate data sharing. Federal, provincial and territorial privacy legislation will be respected.

Infoway is also currently working with the various governments to implement a pan-Canadian electronic health record (EHR) for each Canadian. The integration of the Public Health Surveillance Solution with the EHR will provide access to data, such as laboratory results and demographic information – information that helps track outbreaks of communicable diseases and can stimulate ideas on how to control them.

Underpinning the integration are the standards and functional and technical specifications being developed for the new system by Infoway and its government partners. An inventory and analysis of existing systems is being done to determine what can be used ‘as is’ in the new system and what needs to be modified or custom developed. More detailed design and integration work and implementation planning specific to each Canadian province and territory should begin this fiscal year.

In January 2005, Infoway announced the signing of three agreements for standards projects – Telehealth, Teleradiology Interoperability and National e-Claims Standard (NeCST) messaging – all part of Infoway’s efforts to establish health information standards, which are key to the EHR. The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) and the Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation (CCHSA) are sponsors for these projects.

According to Scott Murray, chief technology officer of CIHI, the NeCST messaging project will provide a “common foundation for claims information exchange throughout the health system, and reduce the cost of managing health billings data and processing health claims and payments. NeCST, simply put, is a voluntary electronic standard for the exchange of claims information between health service providers and private and public payors.” CIHI is the project lead and Infoway provides a major source of funding.

The teleradiology project will be conducted in two phases, the first being the definition of the business requirements and the creation of an interoperable teleradiology model that will give care facilities the ability to share information between themselves. CIHI will provide project management and coordination services for the project.

Infoway and CCHSA are partnering to investigate and develop national CCHSA telehealth standards and an accreditation program that will help telehealth providers meet national standards of excellence.

Infoway’s telehealth strategy is to increase the use of existing telehealth networks and foster the growth of telehealth programs, particularly in northern, remote, rural and aboriginal communities. In February 2005, Infoway and the government of Nunavut announced a joint project intended to serve as a model for remote and aboriginal telehealth initiatives across Canada. It will include a training program for telehealth technicians and the collection and documentation of telehealth-related experience gained from Nunavut, including best practices in management, operations and training, to be shared with other similar communities. Nunavut’s telehealth network, Ikajuruti Inungnik Ungasiktumi (IIU) serves all 25 Nunavut communities.

Accurate and easily maintained registries of patient information are also key to the interoperability of the EHR. Infoway is supporting the improvement and development of interoperable client registry systems across Canada.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Unique Personal Identifier and Client Registry (UPI/Client Registry) had been in use since 2002. It allows all the province’s hospitals, community services offices, long-term care facilities and the Medical Care Plan (MCP) to accurately identify each person accessing the health system and to have up-to-date contact information without the need for people to get in touch with the organization when they move. In December 2003, the province’s Department of Health and Community Services and Infoway together invested $9 million to enhance the registry and build in the capacity to communicate other provincial programs such as the Newfoundland and Labrador Pharmacy Network and the provincial DI/PACS Network (Diagnostic Imaging and Picture Archiving and Communications Systems) and with future client registry systems across Canada. It was successfully implemented in January this year.

The Capital Health Region of Alberta has developed a client registry as well. The lessons learned and the solutions developed in both provinces provide a road map for the other provinces and territories as they develop their own client registries to integrate into the system. Client registry initiatives are in progress in nine other jurisdictions.

Natural Resources Canada’s energy efficiency awards

This year Natural Resources Canada’s Energy Efficiency Awards winners are the City of North Vancouver, BC (Energy Production and Transmission Project); School District No. 38 in Richmond, BC (Buildings, Retrofit, Government and Institutional); Forintek Canada Corp in Vancouver, BC (Equipment and Technology, Energy-Using Equipment) and Virescens Inc. in Surrey (Outreach), BC. The award ceremony was held in Ottawa March 18, 2005. Legend Power Systems, of West Vancouver (for its Electrical HarmonizerTM), BC Hydro (for BC Hydro Power Smart) and Terasen Gas Inc. (for the 2003 Energy Star Heating System Upgrade Offer) received honourable mention in their categories.

Summit magazine congratulates all the winners of the energy efficiency award, but takes special note of Richmond School District No. 38.

Richmond School District No. 38’s retrofitting of 47 schools, with new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and lighting, provides a model for other Canadian school boards to follow. Modernization of the HVAC and lighting, completed in January 2003, is saving the equivalent of more than 14 million kilowatt-hours each year and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2,500 tonnes. The school also centralized and updated its energy controls resulting in better management of heat to school spaces, which can now be monitored remotely and the temperatures adjusted as needed, depending on occupancy of the space. The savings generated are helping to pay for the cost of the replacement systems and will eventually be applied to school programs.

The financing model for the project demonstrates innovation as well, mixing public and private money. According to the press release “incentive grants totalling $1 million were received from Natural Resources Canada and BC Hydro. Honeywell, a global energy management and equipment company, provided a $5.4 million energy performance contract.” The contract was structured with a 10-year payback period, but district officials realized that the roughly $1 million in annual energy savings under the retrofit represented a better investment return than what they could earn on short-term deposits. Paying down the performance contract with short-term district funds, and a capital grant from the BC Ministry of Education dropped the payback period to two years.

California chooses new biological process for water treatment

Early in March, the California Department of Health Services (CA DHS) granted conditional acceptance for Carollo Engineers’ fixed-bed biological treatment process, which will produce drinking water from perchlorate contaminated water – the first approval of its kind for a non-proprietary perchlorate treatment technology. The letter of conditional acceptance says the CA DHS “accepts fixed bed biological treatment to remove or reduce perchlorate from source water(s) that might be used for potable supply. The acceptance was subject to certain conditions, including careful monitoring and control of perchlorate concentration, flow and acetic acid feed.”

Features of the process include:

  • A waste stream that is not perchlorate-laden like other technologies such as membranes and ion exchange.
  • Removes perchlorate to below detection levels (< 1ppb) by converting it to innocuous chloride and oxygen, resulting in high process efficiency with water recoveries greater than 97 percent.
  • Reduces perchlorate to below detection regardless of raw water perchlorate concentration.
  • Eliminates other contaminants simultaneously, including nitrate, organic matter, and taste and odour compounds.
  • Costs less to operate than conventional perchlorate removal technologies.

Hydrogen bus endures Manitoba cold-weather

A hydrogen transit bus had its cold weather testing done in Winnipeg, Manitoba, which most Canadians would agree was the perfect choice. The bus used compressed hydrogen gas (fuel) produced by Stuart Energy’s mobile refuelling system and was refueled using a Winnipeg-based Kraus Global dispenser. It was serviced and supported by Red River College staff.

New Flyer Industries, based in Manitoba, built the bus body. The 10-cylinder Ford engine and hybrid-electric drive systems were installed by ISE Corporation in San Diego. The engine was modified to burn pure hydrogen gas, powering an electric generator that powered motors at the drive wheels. The bus, owned by SunLine Transit Agency of California, underwent initial testing in California before being shipped back to Winnipeg for the cold weather test.

Several partners supported the testing through in-kind or funding contributions including:

  • Natural Resources Canada - funding support
  • Province of Manitoba - funding support and project co-ordination
  • Vehicle Technology Centre - funding support
  • New Flyer Industries - bus chassis development
  • Red River College - refuelling and bus operation support
  • City of Winnipeg Transit Department - regular passenger service cold-weather operation
  • ISE Corporation, California - development and integration of the hybrid system
  • University of Manitoba Transport Institute - project management and consumer acceptance survey
  • Stuart Energy - mobile hydrogen production system
  • Kraus Global - hydrogen-dispensing system
  • SunLine Transit Agency, California - owner of the bus.

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