Use of Electronic Medical Records Doubled over Six Years

Canadians Say Clinicians Using Electronic Records More Likely to Know their Health History

TORONTO, Nov. 15, 2012 /CNW/ - More Canadian physicians than ever are embracing the move from paper to electronic medical records (EMR), according to new surveys released today. More than half of Canada's family physicians (56%) used EMRs in mid-2012, up from 23% in 2006 according to the Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey of Primary Care Physicians in 11 countries.

"EMR implementation in Canada has found its momentum," said Richard Alvarez, President and CEO, Canada Health Infoway.  "Twice as many doctors have access to an EMR compared to six years ago, and Canadians are seeing the results.  We need to sustain this growth."

Recent increases in EMR use include the results of investments made by Canada Health Infoway in collaboration with provincial/territorial EMR programs. Support from the federal government through the 2010 budget, matched by provincial/territorial partners, has made it possible for more than 11,000 clinicians in community-based practice to have access to EMRs. This is in addition to the 25,000 health care providers in ambulatory (outpatient) clinics who will have access to EMRs through the program.

The Commonwealth Fund survey also shows that EMRs provide health care providers with a more complete picture of their patient's health. For example, 46 per cent of family physicians now say that they can access their patients' lab test results and 42 per cent said that they could easily generate a list of all medications used by a particular patient.

Better access to key data helps to explain results of a new Harris Decima survey in which Canadian adults who said that their family doctor or regular source of care recorded or looked up information about their health electronically were more likely to believe that their care provider always knew important information about their medical history.

"More than half of Canada's family doctors have switched from paper to digital," said John G. Abbott, CEO, Health Council of Canada.  "Given the range of benefits, from improved patient outcomes to valuable time gained, it is essential that Canada's remaining doctors invest in electronic medical record systems."

The findings are based on responses from 2,124 Canadian primary care physicians along with physicians from 10 other countries who participated in the 2012 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey.  The survey was conducted between March 2012 and July 2012.

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 (EMR) progress in Canada

What is an EMR?

An electronic medical record (EMR) is a computer-based medical record specific to one clinician's (e.g. physician) practice or organization. It is the electronic record clinicians maintain on their own patients, and which details demographics, medical and drug history, and diagnostic information such as laboratory results and findings from diagnostic imaging. It is often integrated with other software that manages activities such as billing and scheduling.

EMR Benefits

Health care professionals need timely access to the most up-to-date information when making patient care decisions. However, traditionally lab test results, X-rays, medication histories, and other pertinent information have often been in many different locations resulting in duplication, extra administration tasks, or relying on a patient's memory - ultimately contributing to delays in clinical intervention and treatment.

EMR systems are benefitting clinicians and their patients in many ways including:

  • Efficiency:  Less time chasing paper-based information such as lab test results, clinical notes, freeing up more time for patients
  • Enhanced patient safety: Improved provider capacity to respond to emerging clinical issues and concerns (such as drug recalls), quicker access to information can speed diagnoses and treatment
  • Prevention: 73 per cent of Canadians want email or phone reminders when preventive or follow-up care is required according to a 2012 Harris Decima survey.  EMRs can help accomplish this more efficiently than paper records.
  • Improved patient experience:  Quality of care and the patient experience benefit when clinicians have ready access to the health information they need to make informed care decisions

For examples of clinicians' experiences with EMRs, see this link.

Progress with EMR Investments

Infoway's EMR initiative is providing new tools to support clinicians at the point of care, leveraging Electronic Health Record (EHR) investments by making core clinical information such as lab results, medication information, diagnostic images, or discharge summaries available.

Infoway and jurisdictional investments have accelerated EMR progress by adding more than 11,000 EMRs for community-based clinicians as per the breakdown below.*

Jurisdiction EMR systems**
British Columbia 2,000
Alberta 1,100
Saskatchewan 970
Manitoba 800
Ontario 5,900
Nova Scotia 470
Total 11,240

* Other jurisdictions are also joining the program so the use of EMRs is expected to continue to increase in the months ahead.

**The more than 11,000 EMRs for community-based clinicians shown above are in addition to EMRs that are being made available to 25,000 clinical staff who work in out-patient clinics across Canada.





SOURCE: Canada Health Infoway

For further information:

Dan Strasbourg
Director, Media Relations
Canada Health Infoway

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