Keen interest among physicians for new electronic medical records; goal to
convert 5,700 offices from paper to electronic records in three years

TORONTO, Nov. 3 /CNW/ - The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) said today that physicians across the province are showing keen interest in the new provincially funded program to transition physician offices from paper-based records to electronic medical records.

This past week, OntarioMD, the OMA subsidiary charged with the delivery of the electronic medical records program, received over 650 enquiries about the program from physicians. Over 165 physicians across Ontario have already applied to be part of the program.

"There is pent-up demand for this program," said Dr. Suzanne Strasberg, President of the Ontario Medical Association. Ensuring that electronic medical records are available in every doctor's office is an important step towards improving and strengthening Ontario's health care system."

With electronic medical records, physicians are able to prevent adverse drug reactions when writing and renewing prescriptions. They can manage lab results and help develop preventative care strategies. Doctors have ready access to their patient's history, know what tests have been done and when to schedule periodic checks and tests. Physicians also use these electronic records to help their patients manage chronic disease, such as diabetes and depression. Patients can be confident that their information will be available when their physician or someone on his or her team needs it.

The OMA is partnering with eHealth Ontario to increase the number of family physicians and specialists who use and share electronic medical records. Currently 3,300 primary care physicians have made the transition to electronic medical records. Now, with this new program, an additional 5,700 physicians will be supported. By 2012, 9,000 physicians, including more than 65 per cent of primary care physicians, will be using electronic medical records, to the benefit of approximately 10 million Ontarians.

"The adoption of electronic medical records is one of the most important tools needed to increase efficiency throughout the entire healthcare system," said the Honourable Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

Under the program, eligible physicians will receive subsidies to transform their offices. They will receive approximately $28,000 over three years to assist in successfully adopting a certified electronic medical records system. The balance of the investment helps physicians with change management, adoption support services, technology enhancements and access to web-based information. The total cost of the program is $236 million over three years.

"These systems help physicians advance patient safety and provide better care through medication management and special features for patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes," said Rob Devitt, interim President and CEO of eHealth Ontario.

An electronic medical record is a computer-based medical record that is specific to one physician, practice or organization. It is the record that a doctor maintains for his or her own patients which details demographics, medical and drug history, diagnostic information and laboratory results. It is often integrated with other software that manages activities such as billing and scheduling.

SOURCE eHealth Ontario

For further information: For further information: Heather Brown, eHealth Ontario, (416) 586-4238; Ivan Langrish, Minister's Office, MOHLTC, (416) 326-3986; David Jensen, MOHLTC, (416) 314-6197; Leianne Musselman, Ontario Medical Association, (416) 340-2862

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