X E C U T I V E D I R E C T O R ' S M E S S A G E
survey shows more doctors ready for EMR technology
Dawn Mason Photo
Membership interest in the
transfer of paper medical records to electronic medical records (EMR) is
steadily growing among doctors in Newfoundland and Labrador, according
to our 2007 membership survey.
By Rob Ritter
Membership interest in the transfer of
paper medical records to electronic medical records (EMR) is
steadily growing among doctors in Newfoundland and Labrador,
according to our 2007 membership survey.
Approximately eighty-seven per cent of
respondents said the NLMA should get more involved in the province-wide
implementation of EMRs. Twenty-five per cent of survey respondents said
they were interested in using EMR in their practices, but felt they
lacked sufficient knowledge or funding to move forward.
Indeed, provincial government funding for
EMR seems to be the avenue followed by those jurisdictions across the
country that are the most advanced.
For example, in 2006 the BCMA and the
provincial health ministry established the Physician Information
Technology Office. It was granted $108 million to be delivered
incrementally to physicians who agreed to sign on to
provincially-sanctioned EMR systems. OntarioMD, a subsidiary of the
Ontario Medical Association, also receives provincial government funding
to build a province-wide EMR system.
Historically, physicians in this province
have been reluctant to invest in IT upgrades such as new EMR systems.
For many physicians the sheer installation costs for connecting their
clinics to EMR systems are prohibitive, especially given the upfront
costs associated with equipment and licensing fees.
On a positive note, twenty-four members
who completed the survey said they have already implemented EMR software
in their practices for administrative purposes and 67 respondents are
using EMRs for both administrative and clinical purposes. While these
statistics are encouraging, they are an indication that the journey
towards a province-wide computerized physician network has a long way to
The future of EMR adoption in the province
will require more than just an organizational and cultural shift in the
way physicians manage their practices. In order to promote the
province-wide implementation of electronic medical records, physicians
must be compensated for some of the costs.
The NLMA is working with government to
move forward with a definitive cost-sharing arrangement for EMRs for
physician offices and clinics, and is asking that early adopters be
included in any arrangements retroactively.
Government is currently reviewing an
options paper that was commissioned to present recommendations for
implementing EMRs for physicians across the province in the coming
years. The provinces plan to increase EMR adoption, including the
roll-out of a funding arrangement, is expected to be implemented in the
spring of next year, facilitated by NLCHI and the NLMA.