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Moving forward with EMRs

February 5, 2016

By Dr. Darren Larsen (@larsendarren)

dr-darren-150px-X-150pxWe have come a long way in Canada in getting physicians to adopt digital records systems in the form of office-based electronic medical records (EMRs). In Ontario alone, over 11,600 physicians (both family doctors and specialists) have EMRs in their practices and are using them with varying levels of sophistication. For many of us physicians, the EMR is our lifeline to our patients. It is the environment in which we spend almost all of our day, recording the patient story, reading and thinking about test results and communicating with our peers externally through the creation of referrals, and internally with messaging systems.

Some clinics are starting to push the boundaries of basic use, though, and this is where the power of digital records systems becomes apparent. This is not easy work. The thinking required to move to mature EMR use takes reflection and solid dedicated effort on behalf of physicians, nurses and the staff they employ and is often done off the side of the desk. Advancing to the mature use of EMR presents change management challenges, changing the way we work. How do we convince medical personnel of the benefit of moving forward? How do we make the work palatable in the face of all the other demands facing them every day from the clinical, business and system perspective? How do we do all of this in an already strained system with fewer and fewer payments for participation?

There is a tendency to look to our American neighbours in their advancement of EMR maturity, but models there have been built on massive incentive payments without necessarily a view to how the change can be sustained.

On February 10 at 1pm ET (time zone converter), @OntarioEMRs is hosting the #hcsmca tweetchat to explore barriers and opportunities in the advancement EMR as it applies to both primary care and specialist care. We are posing four big questions to advance the conversation and gather great ideas with the #hcsmca community to help promote change.

  • T1: How do you use EMRs now? What do you value in them? As a health professional, patient, researcher, etc.
  • T2: What would the EMR of 2030 look like? Where do we need to get to?
  • T3: What could/should be done w/ the vast data in EMR systems to improve patient care, relationships & the healthcare system?
  • T4: How to move forward/promote the advanced adoption and use of mature EMR systems?
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