IBM In Canadian E-Health Deal

Big Blue will create a database to store millions of digitized patient records.
IBM said it signed a $3.3 million agreement to build a digital health records repository for the Canadian province of Quebec.

Under the 5-year contract, IBM's LGS Group unit will create a centralized registry where e-health records will be stored in the standardized Cross-enterprise Document Sharing (XDS) format, which is used widely throughout Canada.

"The registry will enable Quebec family doctors to better serve their patients," said Raymond Carrier, project manager for Quebec's health and social services agency. "Medical professionals can search for, access, and view digital images from their offices, regardless of where or how originals are stored," said Carrier.

IBM is just one of several vendors looking to cash in on the move toward electronic health systems. Dell earlier this month announced a deal to acquire outsourcer Perot Systems, which derives the bulk of its commercial revenues from the healthcare industry.

IBM will maintain three digital imaging repositories throughout Quebec to store the images. Doctors in the province will be able to access the registry and view all the files for a particular patient with just a few clicks. The aim is to speed diagnosis and treatment of diseases and other ailments.

Radiologists also will have remote access to the database, which should improve patient care in areas where such professionals are in short supply.

"This is the final step that will lead to a comprehensive medical imaging domain solution as part of the Quebec EHR plan," said Carrier, referring to the province's Electronic Health Records initiative.

Spending on healthcare technology is expected to increase in the U.S. and other countries as governments look to make their systems more efficient in order to deal with rising costs. President Obama has said he wants all Americans' health records to be digitized by 2014.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on e-health and the federal stimulus package. Download the report here (registration required).