Advanced Users of EMRs Achieve Greater Efficiencies

By Bobby Gheorghiu and Chad Leaver

Physicians are extremely busy. That’s why it’s important to identify solutions that can increase efficiency. One such solution is meaningful use of electronic medical records (EMR) — physicians that use more advanced functionalities in their EMR report greater efficiencies.

Female doctor typing on laptop

Use of EMRs across Canada by primary care physicians has grown over the past decade, from 37 per cent in 2009 to 85 per cent in 2017. While basic use of EMRs involves electronic entry and retrieval of patient notes and generating prescriptions, more advanced use includes:

  • sending electronic referrals to specialists;
  • enabling automated alerts or warnings to support safe prescribing — such as drug or drug/dose interactions;
  • receiving discharge summaries for patients returning home from hospital care, and;
  • use of analytic or reporting functions on practice EMR data to understand patients who may be due for follow-up care or treatment.

One of the more interesting insights from the 2018 Canadian Physician Survey looks at the relationship between use of multiple EMR functionalities and perceived practice efficiency. The study found that 92 per cent of physicians who use six to nine functionalities stated that they ‘provide more efficient health care with electronic records,’ whereas only 67 per cent of physicians who use one to two EMR functionalities agreed. The full list of functionalities is available in the study report.

This suggests that coordinated strategies that enable primary care physicians in Canada to adopt and integrate advanced EMR functionalities may increase practice efficiency. This post is the first of a two-part series and the second explores how physician usage of EMRs evolve as they grow beyond their initial first couple of years.

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About the authors
Bobby Gheorghiu

Bobby Gheorghiu

Bobby Gheorghiu works with stakeholders in academia, private and public sectors to develop and monitor performance targets for initiatives such as PrescribeIT®, Canada’s national e-prescribing service, to ensure widespread adoption of technology and to demonstrate tangible benefits of investments in digital health. He holds an MHSc in Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation from the University of Toronto.

Chad Leaver

Chad Leaver

Chad Leaver leads national research, evaluation and communication efforts for Infoway’s Evaluation Services and Consumer Health & Innovation investment portfolios.