“An electronic medical record (EMR) is a computer-based medical record specific to one clinician’s (e.g. physician) practice or organization. It is the record clinicians maintain on their own patients, and which detail demographics, medical and drug history, and diagnostic information such as laboratory results and findings from diagnostic imaging. It is often integrated with other software that manages activities such as billing and scheduling.”
“Canada continues to be one of the most ‘wired’ countries in the world”.
As part of the next step of high-quality health care services in Canada, will traditional methods of communication between patients and health care providers such as the phone, the in-person contact and the paper records be turned into electronic communication to obtain the follow-up of test results, to ask questions, to collect information before a visit, to schedule appointments by using email, to send reminders, and to renew prescriptions? Some patients would also like to receive online information from their family physicians and so on. Are those the ultimate aims for good communication between patients and providers? Technological advances in information and network management have allowed the creation of “E-Health.”
E-Health offers the advantage of linking several different key actors like the physician’s offices, the pharmacies and the labs, around an electronic folder that is attributed to a patient. Our health minister discusses the ramifications and the downsides of the implementation of this project in Quebec.
The Canadian Medical Association has carried out a survey in collaboration with the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. This survey shows how Quebec is behind compared to the rest of the provinces. Our province has a significant delay in the use of electronic records. More than a third of the physicians in this province only use paper and pen to take down clinical information.
The Quebec Program of Adoption of Electronic Medical Records (the PQADME) is a program for the acquisition and use of electronic medical records by family physicians. The PQADME is in place since November 15, 2012.
In Quebec, there are several different certified EMR solutions (like Purkinje and Medesync) and their acquisitions are partly funded by the PQADMÉ.
The Quebec Health Record (QHR) was also adopted in mid-2012 to improve the efficiency of the care of patients. Although some may disparage the project with the fact that it could result in confidentiality breaches, the health record is only accessible to specific professionals. Also, professionals only have access to the parts of the record relevant to their roles.
The PQADMÉ is integrated with the Quebec Health Record. The doctor wishing to join the program must necessarily be or become involved in the QHR. According to the FMOQ, the interrelationship will promote the use of EMR as QHR.
It should be noted that an EMR, with several functionalities, will increase physicians’ efficiency and improve communication between them. Thanks to today’s mobile technology, health professionals can bring the information with them. In addition to that, management of patients with chronic disease will be much easier by preventing redundant exams and repetitive analyses.
However, E-Health still has some major downsides. For example, it can potentially change the patient-doctor relationship by making it non-interactive. Moreover, health professionals need to adjust the information they deliver to the patient that receives it. This is hard to do in an electronic context where patients can refrain from asking questions about medical knowledge.
Food for thought…
Alain Nathan Sahin
Medical student at Université de Montréal