The percentage of Canadian primary care physicians using electronic medical records (EMRs) has more than doubled in the last decade and is now around 55%, according to a report published by Canada Health Infoway.
While EMR use in Canada lags behind comparable countries, Canadian EMR adoption has reached the point where policy analysts are able to research the impact of EMR use in Canada.
And the news is good.
Canadian EMR Implementation
At 56%, the Canadian EMR usage rate lags behind the United States (69%) and is signifigantly lower than Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands—all of which see over 90% of their primary care physicians using EMRs.
But Canadians are beginning to reap the benefits of EMR implementation, and the research thus far provides compelling impetus for further adpotion.
Patient Experiences, Patient Outcomes
In 2013, the Health Council of Canada reported that only 60% of surveyed Canadians felt their regular doctor always knew the important details of their medical history. This percentage is not enough.
However, Canada Health Infoway reports that Canadians whose regular doctors use digital records are more likely to say that their regular doctor always knows the important details of their medical history.
EMR use is improving the ability of care teams to communicate with each other, and improving patient experiences:
EMR use is improving clinician-patient communication. And thanks to EMR implementation, patients are recieving test results faster and continuity of care is improving.
Canadian clinicians are also reporting that EMRs are improving their ability to care for patients with chronic diseases, and EMR tools like automated reminders are aiding in preventive and follow-up care.
And the right EMR software can also aid in understanding patient outcomes.
Increasing Efficiency, Reducing Errors
Through reduced chart pulls and simplified test management, electronic medical documentation is streamlining workflows, allowing care teams to allocate their time more efficiently, which leads to cost savings.
Canadian primary care physicians investing in EMR systems recoup their investment in an average of 10 months.
And the increased accuracy and ease of oversight provided by EMR software is also helping to reduce medical record errors, prevent adverse drug events, and improve patient safety.
In Ontario, 63% of family physicians and specialists report that within the first year of EMR implementation, patient safety improves—a benefit beyond cost savings, and one at the centre of the physician-patient relationship.