Electronic Medical Records Use Tripled in Nine Years

Canadian primary care EMR adoption and use continues to grow

(Toronto) – More and more Canadian physicians are embracing digital health according to the recently released Commonwealth Fund’s 2015 International Health Policy Survey of Primary Care Doctors. In fact, nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of Canadian primary care physicians report using an electronic medical record (EMR), improving from 23 per cent in the 2006 survey results.

“Over the past nine years, we have seen significant growth in EMR adoption and use among Canadian primary care physicians,” explained Lynne Zucker, Vice President, Canada Health Infoway. “We’re also seeing that more and more of these physicians are using their EMRs’ functionality to access information and support their patients’ care. We anticipate this figure will continue to climb with more mature use.”

More than 70 per cent of Canadian primary care physicians that use EMRs are using them to generate information that can support patient care; this includes information such as lists of all laboratory results and medication lists for patients, as well as pulling a practice-wide list of patients by diagnoses list.

Canada Health Infoway (Infoway) co-invested with most of the provinces and territories in Canada to encourage EMR software use in community-based physicians’ offices. These EMR systems are also connected to Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems outside the practice, which provides access to valuable clinical information, such as lab results, medication information, or hospital discharge reports. As of September 30, 2015, over 19,000 community-based physicians and/or nurse practitioners are benefitting from Infoway EMR investments.

“There is more work to do to continue to advance digital health in Canada for Canadians,” continued Zucker. “There is opportunity for additional growth in not only EMR adoption, but also in consumer health solutions. We know Canadians want access to digital health tools that will help empower them to be part of their health care team.”

A separate Infoway-commissioned Harris/Decima consumer survey highlighted that more than 80 per cent of Canadians would take advantage of digital health solutions, if they were available to them. According to the Commonwealth Fund survey, there has been advancement in consumer health solutions, yet there continues to be opportunity for growth. For example in Canada only 15 per cent of physicians’ practices offer patients the ability to email them, and one in 10 the ability to request an appointment or referral online.

Read the backgrounder.

About The Commonwealth Fund Survey

The Commonwealth Fund’s 2015 International Health Policy Survey of Primary Care Doctors findings are based on responses from primary care physicians in 10 countries, including 2,284 Canadian physicians, who participated in the survey. The survey was conducted between March and June 2015.

The Commonwealth Fund provided core funding and co-funding from the following organizations: Bureau of Health Information; Health Quality Ontario; the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; the Canadian Institute for Health Information; Canada Health Infoway; le Commissaire à la santé et au bien-être du Québec; la Haute Autorité de Santé; the Caisse Nationale d'Assurance Maladie des Travailleurs Salariés; BQS Institute for Quality and Patient Safety; the German Federal Ministry of Health; the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport; the Scientific Institute for Quality of Healthcare, Radboud University Nijmegen; the Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services; the Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs; the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health; and The Health Foundation.

About Canada Health Infoway

Infoway helps to improve the health of Canadians by working with partners to accelerate the development, adoption and effective use of digital health across Canada. Through our investments, we help deliver better quality and access to care and more efficient delivery of health services for patients and clinicians. Infoway is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government.


For more information: 

Karen Schmidt
Director, Corporate/Internal Communications
Canada Health Infoway
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