Ontario Health: Digital Excellence in Health Update

The following information was provided to the WEOHT from Ontario Health:

Working towards a better, more connected health care system, Ontario Health continues to operationalize and advance the Digital First for Health Strategy to provide citizens, patients and providers more complete health information through the province’s digital and virtual assets and services. A significant driver of this work is the ability for providers to easily access and submit quick and secure electronic referrals. In this bulletin, we provide you with an important update on how we are continuing to increase the spread and adoption of eReferral services across Ontario. Please forward this email to any colleagues who would be interested in learning more about this important work. 

Increasing the spread and adoption of eReferral
Ensuring sustainability for eReferral implementation is a provincial priority. As part of this commitment, Ontario Health will implement an open competitive procurement of eReferral licenses. This approach will allow providers the flexibility to select their preferred eReferral provider and will help continue the spread and adoption of eReferral services.  

To do this, Ontario Health will be issuing a request for proposal (RFP) that will establish a list of up to four vendors to support and accelerate implementation of eReferral. The RFP will require vendors to adhere to the provincial eReferral digital interoperability standards to allow the vendor platforms to communicate with one another. This will help enable seamless communication between providers, regardless of what eReferral platform is being used.  

This work is part of the Ministry of Health’s broader, clinically led, patient-centred initiative, ‘Patients Before Paperwork’ (Pb4P), which aims to increase patient safety while improving communications across the health system, facilitating better coordination of care and phasing out paper and fax-based workflows. The request for proposal (RFP) for eReferral solutions will be issued by March 29, 2024. 

What this means for you
Ontario Health will maintain the current vendor relationship for existing Ocean licenses until March 2028. This will ensure there are minimal disruptions to clinical processes developed using the existing eReferral system deployed through the provincial eServices program while maintaining processes health care providers are familiar with. After this, licenses will transition to one of the successful vendors in the RFP. 

This means that all projects or requests requiring Ocean eReferral licenses that have signed agreements in place will continue to move forward as planned.  Any net new requests, or an expansion of pre-existing work where increased licensing is required, will be put on hold until the new provincial RFP is completed and awarded. 

Users of the eReferral system, either with the current vendor or a potentially new one post-RFP, will not be charged user licensing fees. 

Why is this change being made?
Establishing a provincial list acquired through an open procurement process will introduce a standard integration model for receivers of eReferrals through a common integration approach. It will also ensure the province is achieving value for money and provide an opportunity to identify whether new and innovative solutions exist to address the scope of the Pb4P initiative. 

How does this connect to the Patients Before Paperwork initiative?
In the  Government of Ontario’s   announced last year, they laid out the plan to replace “antiquated fax machines with digital communication alternatives.” To support this, the Ministry of Health and Ontario Health are collaborating on the Patients before Paperwork (Pb4P) initiative.

A key objective of Pb4P is to lead the charge on implementing digital products that will reduce the risk of delays in diagnosis and treatment, promote safer patient care, improve patient privacy, improve provider and patient experience through equitable and seamless access to care and reduce administrative burden faced by providers. It will also make it easier and faster for health data to follow patients wherever they access care.

Over the next five years, Pb4P will leverage connected digital products to transform information sharing across the health system and identify how clinical pathways, such as those that are paper or fax based, can be modernized, and streamlined.This approach will support functionality for a broader set of products of the Pb4P initiative which includes eReferral, eConsult, Central Intake, Central Waitlist Management, eOrdering, and eForms.
We are committed to keeping our partners informed on project updates, milestones and will continue to share information as this work progresses. 

Download the new Health811 promotional toolkit
A promotional toolkit for Health811, which includes ready-made social media imagery, digital screen content and posters, is now available for partners to download to help promote greater awareness of Health811. 

As a reminder, Health811 is a free, secure and confidential service Ontarians can call or access online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to receive health advice from a registered nurse, locate local health services and find trusted health information. Ontarians can call 811 (TTY: 1-866-797-0007), chat online or access resources on the Health811 website in both  and. 

With respiratory illness season now upon us, emergency departments typically experience  increases in patient volumes. Partners can use the promotional toolkit materials on their own communications channels to promote greater awareness of Health811 and ensure people across Ontario know where to turn if they need information about non-emergent symptoms they’re experiencing or have general health questions. Download the Health811 promotional toolkit inor.

The Ontario Health Cyber Security Centre’s Portal is now live!
Your source for health-related cyber security information, training and more is now available. The portal is an online digital hub that delivers thought leadership, information and resources to help health service providers combat growing cyber threats in the provincial health sector. To get started, please follow the steps below: 

Step 1: Please visitand register an account. Please note, membership access may take 1-2 business days. If you already have an account, please bypass this step. 

Step 2: Once you gain membership to cybersecurityontario.ca or log into your existing, active account, please visit our health portal site to register for access to the Ontario Health’s Cyber Security portal. Please scroll down to the middle of the homepage and click on the “Register Now” button or click any of the header tabs to activate the registration form. Please note, membership access may take 1-2 business days. 

Step 3: Once access has been granted, users have the option of subscribing to receive health care focused cyber threat advisories. To join this opt-in list, please click on the “Register Now” button on the homepage featured under “Cyber Threat Advisory Subscriptions” section. If you have questions, please contact the Ontario Health Cyber Security Centre

Ontario physicians eligible to register in new secure messaging pilot offered by the province
As of January 15, physicians across Ontario can register to participate in a two-year patient-to-physician Secure Messaging Proof-of-Concept (PoC) pilot led by the province.The Secure Messaging PoC pilot will run from April 1, 2024, to March 31, 2026. The last date for physicians to register to participate is July 31, 2024. Details about the Secure Messaging PoC pilot, as well as its terms and conditions, can be found in the

How to register to participate:The Secure Messaging PoC pilot is intended for physicians who have a significant interest in providing services by secure messaging in their practice, or are currently doing so, and are willing to be part of a time-limited, evaluated PoC pilot that will inform the overall strategic approach for secure messaging in Ontario, including elements such as technology and implementation approaches. The use of an Ontario Health ‘verified solution’ for secure messaging is required. For more information, see Ontario Health’sIt is not necessary for physicians to have procured a verified solution prior to registration. 

Physicians interested in participating in the two-year Secure Messaging PoC pilot can register on  If you would like to receive more information about anything included in this update, or if you have been forwarded this email and would like to receive it directly from us in the future, please contact info@ontariohealth.ca