Use of Electronic Medical Records Doubled over Six Years

Canadians Say Clinicians Using Electronic Records More Likely to Know their Health History

(Toronto, Ontario) – More Canadian physicians than ever are embracing the move from paper to electronic medical records (EMR), according to a new survey released today. More than half of Canada’s family physicians (56 per cent) used EMRs in mid-2012, up from 23 per cent in 2006 according to the Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey of Primary Care Physicians.

“EMR implementation in Canada has found its momentum,” said Richard Alvarez, President and CEO, Canada Health Infoway.  “Twice as many doctors have access to an EMR compared to six years ago, and Canadians are seeing the results.  We need to sustain this growth.” 

Recent increases in EMR use include the results of investments made by Canada Health Infoway in collaboration with provincial/territorial EMR programs. Support from the federal government through the 2010 budget, matched by provincial/territorial partners, has made it possible for more than 11,000 clinicians in community-based practice to have access to EMRs. This is in addition to the 25,000 health care providers in ambulatory (outpatient) clinics who will have access to EMRs through the program.

The Commonwealth Fund survey also shows that EMRs provide health care providers with a more complete picture of their patient’s health. For example, 46 per cent of family physicians now say that they can access their patients’ lab test results and 42 per cent said that they could easily generate a list of all medications used by a particular patient.

Better access to key data helps to explain results of a new Harris Decima survey in which Canadian adults who said that their family doctor or regular source of care recorded or looked up information about their health electronically were more likely to believe that their care provider always knew important information about their medical history.

“More than half of Canada’s family doctors have switched from paper to digital,” said John G. Abbott, CEO, Health Council of Canada.  “Given the range of benefits, from improved patient outcomes to valuable time gained, it is essential that Canada’s remaining doctors invest in electronic medical record systems.” 

The findings are based on responses from 2,124 Canadian primary care physicians along with physicians from nine other countries who participated in the 2012 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey.  The survey was conducted between March 2012 and July 2012.


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About Canada Health Infoway

Canada Health Infoway is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government. Infoway jointly invests with every province and territory to accelerate the development and adoption of information and communications technology projects in Canada. Fully respecting patient confidentiality, these secure systems will provide clinicians and patients with the information they need to better support safe care decisions and manage their own health. Accessing this vital information quickly will help foster a more modern and sustainable health care system for all Canadians.



For more information: 

Karen Schmidt
Director, Corporate/Internal Communications
Canada Health Infoway
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