"There is pent-up demand for this programme", stated 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 3300 primary care physicians have made the transition to electronic medical records. Now, with this new programme, an additional 5700 physicians will be supported. By 2012, 9000 physicians, including more than 65 percent 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 health care system", stated the Honourable Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.
Under the programme, 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 programme is $236 million over three years.
The $236 million investment was made in July by eHealth Ontario. Under the programme's terms, doctors in Ontario can apply for the grant to purchase either a local electronic medical records system from one of eleven approved vendors or a system tied into eHealth Ontario's server.
"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", stated Rob Devitt, interim President and CEO of eHealth Ontario.
The programme will provide one time and monthly funding, as well as transition and adoption support services. Furthermore, early electronic medical records adopters, who helped expand and evolve the programme are also eligible for a monthly funding subsidy to upgrade their electronic medical records to the latest certified specification.
An electronic medical record is a computer-based medical record that is specific to one physician, practice or organisation. 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.
P & P Data Systems Inc., a developer of paperless solutions for the medical industry, is one of the eleven approved vendors for the programme. A centralized, easily accessible, and secure patient information network is critical to putting patient information at the centre of any clinical environment. With data stored locally at each clinic's facility, P & P's value proposition delivers its clients numerous benefits.
These benefits include:
- Immediate access to information, since it is all stored at each clinic's physical facility
- Sharing of patient information everywhere assessment, diagnosis and treatment decisions occur.
- Reduced costs by shortening billing cycles and other core administrative and clinical operations - including storage and copying costs of medical records.
- Direct data entry by clinicians and staff greatly reduces transcription costs. Direct links to transcription systems also saves time.
- Creation of higher quality documentation.
- Minimization and in many cases, elimination of issues of incorrect or conflicting drug prescriptions.
- EMR systems greatly aid clinicians in immediate patient treatment and in capturing key information.
- More complete records helps clinicians and staff to avoid mistakes and to manage the cost of malpractice insurance.