February 9, 2011 (Toronto, ON) - With its newest investment program, Canada Health Infoway (Infoway) is funding Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems in community-based practices and outpatient settings throughout Canada.
Infoway President and CEO, Richard Alvarez, today provided details about the $380 million fund which is designed to focus investment at the points of care where the benefits of health information technology can deliver immediate value to patients and clinicians.
“Connecting health providers to the health information systems being developed across the country is fundamental to Infoway’s mandate,” says Alvarez. “This new wave of investment, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, will help us reach our target to enroll an additional 8,000 to 9,000 physicians and nurse practitioners in EMR programs by March 2012.”
Infoway's investment in electronic medical records is part of the $500 million in new funding provided by the Government of Canada in its 2010 Budget. Through this program, Infoway will co-fund EMR systems for physicians and nurse practitioners, working through funding programs in provinces and territories throughout Canada. Infoway support will allow provinces and territories that have programs in place to expand their current programs. In jurisdictions planning to introduce a formal EMR program in the near future,Infoway will assist with start-up costs.
"Infoway's initiative shows real commitment to put EMR support where it is needed most: at the front lines of care," said Dr. Jeff Turnbull, President of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). "Increasing the use of EMR systems is a critical component of the CMA's vision to transform Canada's health care system so that it puts patients first."
Infoway will also invest in clinical peer support networks so that health professionals using EMR systems can learn from others' experience and share best practices, innovation projects, and other efforts to accelerate clinical value from the use of information and communications technologies. As well, support will be provided to qualifying information technology vendors needing to upgrade their current product lines to meet Infoway privacy, security andinteroperability standards.
Infoway's investments in EMR systems will be tied to the extent to which health professionals derive clinical value which will include using an EMR for functions such as entering patient information including notes, allergies, immunizations and prescribed medications or viewing lab tests. Additional clinical value will be derived from using the more advanced functionality of the EMR and supporting greater interoperability of the EMR with external systems.
"It is now time to ensure front-line clinicians have the ability to interact with these core systems and can use them to better manage patient care, added Alvarez. "Integrating point of service technologies such as EMR systems in community-based physician offices and ambulatory care settings allows us to leverage our investments to date in core provincial and territorial electronic health record systems."
Canada is one of the most connected nations in the world and Canadian patients want more interactivity and interoperability from their health care system. "In the national dialogue the CMA has started with Canadians, improving and better integrating the use of EMRs and electronic linkages between providers and patients is a major recurring theme," added Dr. Turnbull. "This is not a brave new world for patients. They are plugged in and they want better IT and communication tools in their health care."
Family physicians such as Dr. Michael Golbey of Kelowna, British Columbia, believe now is the time for physicians to consider putting an EMR system in their practice. "I would encourage my fellow doctors to talk to colleagues who have already put an EMR system in place. Go see how it works, spend some time with them, and I'm sure you'll be convinced that it really is worthwhile," says Dr. Golbey. "We've come a long way from where we were five years ago. People who implemented EMRs at that time, they were pioneers. But if you look around today, the people who are implementing EMR systems are average doctors."
As a strategic investor in the development of health information and communications technologies, Infoway has designed this new investment program to support jurisdictional efforts to encourage physicians and nurse practitioners to adopt, use and derive practical, tangible clinical value from interoperable EMR systems in community and out-patient settings.
Based on a Conference Board of Canada economic impact study, over the next four years investment expenditures made by Infoway and its partners will stimulate the Canadian economy with a $1.11 billion increase to real gross domestic product and create an estimated 10,700 person years of employment.
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.
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