As the debate around the creation of a national EMR system continues, there appears to be a lack of consensus among industry stakeholders. While the discussion swirls around Canadian doctors, there is one goal: to provide each patient with the best care based on the most complete medical history.
Admittedly, it’s not a perfect picture. As patients move from clinic to clinic, or province to province, their medical records do not. When care is needed, doctors must provide treatment based on a patient’s recollection of his or her medical history, or on records faxed or mailed from the patient’s family physician.
Despite its shortcomings, the Canadian healthcare system has seen significant progress in the past decade thanks to digital innovations that are connecting care teams and enabling them to make informed decisions regarding healthcare delivery.
Physician access to patient data and interconnectivity is becoming a reality
In 2017, a survey by Canada Health Infoway revealed that 85% of primary care physicians in Canada use an EMR to support patient care and address their specific requirements. However, practice environments vary greatly in urban centres, suburban practices, rural clinics and aboriginal health centres, not to mention the unique needs of healthcare specialists.
Even with multiple EMRs in use across the country, new digital tools are enabling interconnectivity between them, improving data accessibility for doctors at the point of care, and in some cases, enabling patients to access their own health records.
Digital platforms like MedDialog allow doctors to communicate electronically with other healthcare providers involved in a patient’s cycle of care – directly from their EMR. This provides a more complete picture of the patient’s medical history.
MedDialog enables direct digital or fax communication between healthcare providers, labs, imaging sites and institutions, whether they use an EMR or not. The intelligent system detects the receiving system and decides whether to send an eFax or an email from the clinic’s EMR. This eliminates the need to make a phone call, send an email through a separate system, contend with busy fax signals or lost faxes.
Along the same lines, integration with drug repositories across Canada is a reality through PrescribeIT™, a national ePrescribing solution that transmits prescriptions electronically right from a doctor’s EMR to a patient’s pharmacy. This helps to reduce medication-related errors related to handwriting interpretation, improve medication adherence, and minimize fraud and misuse of prescriptions like opioids with direct physician to pharmacist communications.
Other convenient services such as TELUS EMR Mobile also expand the use, reach and accessibility of the EMR for the physician. EMR Mobile allows physicians to stay connected to their practice in the clinic, at the hospital, on a patient site visit or while travelling – from their mobile device. Doctors can upload photos directly to patient charts, quickly view patient data and encounter notes, review and process lab results, message nurses or clinic staff, and check their schedules on their mobile device.
Healthcare advancements must have the patient’s best interests at the heart
Technology exists to enhance and connect the country’s healthcare system. By leveraging the Internet and digital advancements in Canadian healthcare, progress is being made. The path may be bumpy, but we can’t lose sight of the fact that the patient must always remain in the forefront.
At TELUS Health, we are committed to helping healthcare providers focus on what matters most: their patients.