Latest Thinking

Health information: when, where, how you need it

May 1, 2013

Dr. Brendan Byrne
From IV Newsletter May 2013

According to a recent study by the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, one-quarter of cell phone users in Canada access health and wellness, fitness or nutritional tools through their device. This concept, however, has eluded the Canadian healthcare system, still ridden with paper-based health records and patient information. In fact, the concept of having access to an electronic health record is quite achievable and has already been proven in several countries around the globe.

Further to that, Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) have evolved significantly. It’s about much more than moving from paper to electronic records. Today’s EMRs have the potential to seamlessly connect physicians with patients and other healthcare providers. They have become an important tool for physicians to improve health outcomes for patients. By using EMRs, physicians can easily take their model of service care to the next level by providing patients with secure access to vital health information, giving them the ability to view upcoming appointments, view current conditions, medications, allergies, vaccination history and more. And the best part? This information can be accessed anytime, anyplace and on any device.

Here’s the thing – based on a recent international survey released by the Commonwealth Fund in November 2012, Canada has a 56 per cent EMR adoption rate, which lags significantly in comparison to other countries that were measured. European countries such as the UK, Norway, New Zealand and the Netherlands are leading the way with adoption rates of 97 per cent or greater. In addition Australia has an adoption rate of 92 per cent. These countries are experiencing major efficiency gains and increased health outcomes because of this technology. What does this mean? We have a huge opportunity to make a difference in the health of Canadians.

Through increased adoption of EMRs by physicians and linking primary care to the care continuum, I believe we can eliminate care gaps and strengthen primary care access for all citizens. Interested in having secure access to your health record? Is your doctor using an EMR? I would strongly encourage you to speak to your physician about EMRs and what they can do for you and your family.