Canada Health Infoway to provide 100% funding for some First Nation Telehealth initiatives

AFN press release ...

Assembly of First Nations and Canada Health Infoway Funding Decision Transforms First Nations Access to Health Care

OTTAWA, Dec. 19 - Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine congratulates Canada Health Infoway's (Infoway) Board of Directors for its decision to provide 100 per cent funding to First Nations telehealth projects linked to existing projects within provinces and territories.

"I am pleased that Canada Health Infoway recognizes the importance of increasing access to health care in First Nations communities," says National Chief Fontaine, "The new funding model will help increase the availability of care, delivered locally, through telehealth."

Infoway has agreed to a new funding formula that offers First Nations 100 per cent funding for telehealth deployment if their projects are integrated with an existing provincial or territorial project. Stand-alone First Nations telehealth projects will receive 75 per cent funding.

"We recognize the barriers to care faced by many remote and isolated First Nations communities," says Richard Alvarez, President and CEO of Canada Health Infoway, the federally-funded, not-for-profit organization that is leading the acceleration of electronic health records across Canada. "For those who live in these communities in particular, telehealth brings medical experts to them thanks to technology, increasing access to much-needed health care."

According to the First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey (RHS), nearly one in five First Nations adults have no doctor or nurse available in their community. Telehealth can improve access by overcoming barriers of geography, transportation infrastructure, and socio-economic disparity.

Currently about 100 First Nations across Canada use telehealth technologies for clinical consultation, continuing professional education, health promotion, health care management and administration.

"This decision represents an important building block, but our work is not done," continues National Chief Fontaine, "We must continue to forge ahead to continue to enhance the quality of care available in First Nations communities

Infoway works with provinces and territories to invest in electronic health projects, which support safer, more efficient health care delivery. Fully respecting patient confidentiality, these private and secure systems provide health care professionals with immediate access to complete and accurate patient information, enabling better decisions about diagnosis and treatment. The result is a sustainable health care system offering improved quality, accessibility, productivity and cost savings.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens of Canada.

For further information: Karyn Pugliese, Communications Officer, Health Secretariat, Assembly of First Nations, (613) 241-6789, ext 210, (613) 292-1877,;. Dan Strasbourg, Director, Media Relations, Canada Health Infoway, (416) 595-3424,