25,000 clinicians to have easier access to vital patient information

Benefits Canadians who receive care in hospital outpatient clinics

TORONTO, Sept. 7, 2012 /CNW/ - Improving the patient experience through increased quality of care and efficiencies is the aim of recent investments in Electronic Medical Records (EMR) for outpatient clinics, announced Richard Alvarez, President and CEO, Canada Health Infoway.

"Giving those who work in busy specialty clinics easier and secure access to patient information gathered from inside and outside the clinic improves care," said Alvarez. "New investments in enhanced electronic medical record systems are helping to make this a reality for 25,000 health care providers across Canada."

Canada Health Infoway, along with the provinces, territories, and health care organizations, are investing in 19 ambulatory (outpatient) EMR projects across Canada, each with the goal of providing authorized clinicians with tools to support activities such as electronic note-taking, review of patient data from previous visits, clinical decision support, ordering of tests and viewing test results.

Almost half of Canadian adults (44 per cent) say that they consulted with a medical specialist in the last year, and many of these visits took place in hospital outpatient clinics. While more than a third of those who had a specialist appointment (37 per cent) say that their specialists always knew important information about their medical history, many report information gaps. EMR systems aim to address this issue. For example, they may enable authorized health providers from different settings to exchange information about a patient's previous care, to quickly access clinical test results, or to see a patient's complete medication history.

"Outpatient care is on the rise in Canada and many patients receive care in more than one place, so it's essential that we streamline how health professionals at outpatient clinics access and use information," added Alvarez. "Less time spent chasing down information means more time that can be spent with patients."

This initiative is part of a $380 million federal investment made in 2010 which has resulted in increased use of EMR systems across Canada.

About Canada Health Infoway

Canada Health Infoway is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government. Infoway jointly invests with every province and territory to accelerate the development and adoption of information and communications technology projects in Canada. Fully respecting patient confidentiality, these secure systems will provide clinicians and patients with the information they need to better support safe care decisions and manage their own health. Accessing this vital information quickly will help foster a more modern and sustainable health care system for all Canadians.


Electronic Medical Records in outpatient clinics

What the health care community is saying

Clinicians working in hospital outpatient clinics - one of the busiest parts of the health system - will soon have quicker and secure access to patient health information, whether it was collected down the hall or across the province.  Some 25,000 health care providers across Canada will soon be replacing paper files with electronic medical records or updating the systems that they use.

The new initiative is part of federal investments aimed at modernizing the way patient information is accessed, used and shared.

Below are some examples of projects underway across Canada, along with local subject matter experts who are serving as media spokespeople.  To arrange interviews with these local spokespeople or with Richard Alvarez, President and CEO of Canada Health Infoway, please contact Dan Strasbourg (416) 595-3424 or dstrasbourg@infoway-inforoute.ca:


The project will help bring the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency closer to having a fully functional electronic medical record that will allow the organization to communicate and access provincial information including lab reports. Using a phased in approach, the Cancer Agency will also work together with the Community Oncology Program of Saskatchewan to look at ways to incorporate electronic health records that will help improve patient care and enhance treatment for patients in the province.

"Our patients deserve the very best care possible," said Scott Livingstone, Saskatchewan Cancer Agency CEO. "Working toward an electronic health record system will give us the ability to make timely medical decisions based on the most current and comprehensive patient information available."

- Mr. Scott Livingstone, CEO, Saskatchewan Cancer Agency


Patients in Manitoba are most frequently seen by specialists in Winnipeg hospital-affiliated outpatient clinics. Before 2012, all of these facilities used paper charts. Recently, introduction of electronic medical records in a few areas has been used to improve patient access and patient flow by reducing clerical support and nursing labor requirements thereby allowing expansion of clinic capacity within existing resources. The EMR also helps reduce loss of information, facilitates timely communication with referring physicians and patients, and improves follow up of test results and the tracking of wait times. Screening processes can be implemented to identify patients who should be booked for a procedure without a delay for an unnecessary initial assessment. The technology also greatly enhances our ability to correct inefficient processes and measures quality of service indicators.

"The Electronic Medical Record helps reduce loss of information, facilitates timely communication with referring physicians and patients, and improves follow up of test results and the tracking of wait times."

- Dr. Dan Roberts, Medical Director, Medicine Program, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority

Northeastern Ontario  

"Health care providers at both Regional Cancer Programs and the 14 Community Hospitals across North Eastern Ontario who administer chemotherapy will be able to collect, manage, and share patient information.  This will support collaboration, making care more seamless for patients who are seen at each of these Hospitals, and will provide local physicians with the information they require to provide timely and appropriate care to their patients."

"This is about taking the benefits that EMRs have afforded patients who stay in hospital and bringing them into hospital outpatient clinics across Canada." 

- Dr. Jonathan Noble, Head of Systemic Therapy, Northeast Cancer Centre


At The Ottawa Hospital, the Electronic Health Record functionality will be extended into and improved upon to support the ambulatory care clinical workflow of approximately 875 physicians and provide them with access to vital patient information, giving them more time to focus more on patient care.  The initiative will benefit patients and providers at more than 100 outpatient clinics from all hospital campuses, including the Civic, General, Riverside and The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre located at the Queensway Carleton Hospital.

"Having online, ready access to clinical information from within the ambulatory clinics and other places that a patient has received care is not only more efficient, it's also safer."

- Dr. Glen Geiger, Chief Medical Information Officer, The Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa, Ontario

Newfoundland and Labrador

In partnership with the four provincial Regional Health Authorities, the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information is expanding the functionality of electronic medical records in outpatient clinics throughout the province.  The initiative will provide critical information to authorized specialists and help improve the efficiency and quality of care they deliver. The expansion of digital dictation into the outpatient clinics will enhance the province's ability to make outpatient clinical information accessible to other health professionals throughout the province.

"Electronic medical information gets us timely access to accurate patient care information. This information is vital and helps us provide better, safer, and more efficient care to our patients".

- Dr. Rajmayur Brahmbhatt, Chief of Staff,  James Paton Memorial Regional Health Centre, Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador

SOURCE: Canada Health Infoway

For further information:

For more information or to arrange interviews with spokespeople:

Dan Strasbourg
Director, Media Relations
Canada Health Infoway
(416) 595-3424


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