SOURCE: Canada Health Infoway

January 28, 2016 10:32 ET

Canadian Physicians Can Improve Patient Care With Advanced EMR Use

Opportunity for Primary Care Physicians to Fully Embrace EMR Functionalities

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - January 28, 2016) - Electronic medical records (EMRs) among Canadian primary care physicians continues to grow, but the use of advanced functions that support improved patient care varies, according to the Commonwealth Fund's 2015 International Health Policy Survey of Primary Care Physicians.

Initial survey results released in December 2015 revealed that EMR use among Canadian primary care physicians tripled in the past nine years (73 per cent versus 23 per cent). New analysis released today includes provincial EMR adoption rates, benefits being realized and advanced use patterns.

"In a relatively short period of time, the rate of EMR adoption and use in Canada has reached strong levels," explained Lynne Zucker, Vice President, Canada Health Infoway. "What we see in the Commonwealth Fund survey results is that here and globally there is opportunity to further advanced EMR use to fully realize the benefits to patients and the health care system."

Most provinces saw growth in EMR use since the previous survey in 2012. Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario continue to have the highest adoption rates in Canada. Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan experienced the highest increases in EMR uptake by primary care physicians since 2012.

Physicians with EMRs report the ability to better manage their patients' care compared to physicians operating without an EMR:

  • 79 per cent of physicians with EMRs report that they are able to generate a computerized list of patients by diagnosis compared to 20 per cent without an EMR
  • 70 per cent can generate a list of all medications taken by an individual patient compared to 17 per cent without an EMR
  • 62 per cent are able to produce a list of patients overdue for tests or preventative care compared to those without an EMR at 11 per cent

Canadian primary care physicians using EMRs are more likely to use some functionalities that support patient care and less likely to use others, when compared to the 10 country average from the Commonwealth Fund survey. For instance:

  • They are more likely to:
    • Receive and review data on patients who received recommended preventive care (41 per cent versus 36 per cent internationally)
    • Receive reminders for guideline-based interventions and/or screening tests (34 per cent versus 30 per cent)
  • They are less likely to:
    • Receive alerts and reminders for potential problems with medication doses or interactions (55 per cent versus 76 per cent internationally)
    • Track all laboratory tests ordered until results reach clinicians (34 per cent versus 51 per cent)
    • Send reminders to patients for regular preventive or follow-up care (22 per cent versus 48 per cent)

Additionally, the survey also highlighted two areas of digital health that present significant opportunities to provide further value to Canadians:

  • Information exchange: 19 per cent of primary care physicians say they can electronically exchange patient clincial summaries with doctors outside of their practice
  • Consumer services: 15 per cent of primary care physicians say they offer patients the option to email them about medical questions or concerns and 11 per cent offer patients the means to request an appointment or referral online

Canada Health Infoway (Infoway) co-invested with most of the provinces and territories in Canada to encourage EMR use in community-based physicians' offices. Many EMR systems are also connected to electronic health record (EHR) systems outside the practice, which provides access to valuable clinical information, such as lab results, medication information, or hospital discharge reports. As of September 30, 2015, over 19,000 community-based physicians and/or nurse practitioners are benefitting from Infoway EMR investments.

Additional Canadian Commonwealth Fund survey data may be viewed in the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI)'s new report How Canada Compares: Results from the Commonwealth Fund 2015 International Health Policy Survey of Primary Care Physicians Report.

About The Commonwealth Fund Survey

The Commonwealth Fund's 2015 International Health Policy Survey of Primary Care Doctors findings are based on responses from primary care physicians in 10 countries, including 2,284 Canadian physicians. The survey was conducted between March and June 2015. 

The Commonwealth Fund provided core funding with co-funding from the following organizations: Bureau of Health Information; Health Quality Ontario; the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; the Canadian Institute for Health Information; Canada Health Infoway; le Commissaire à la santé et au bien-être du Québec; la Haute Autorité de Santé; the Caisse Nationale d'Assurance Maladie des Travailleurs Salariés; BQS Institute for Quality and Patient Safety; the German Federal Ministry of Health; the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport; the Scientific Institute for Quality of Healthcare, Radboud University Nijmegen; the Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services; the Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs; the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health; and The Health Foundation.

About Canada Health Infoway

Infoway helps to improve the health of Canadians by working with partners to accelerate the development, adoption and effective use of digital health across Canada. Through our investments, we help deliver better quality and access to care and more efficient delivery of health services for patients and clinicians. Infoway is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government.

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