Untapped Potential: Advanced EMR Use Offers Benefits to Family Physicians and Their Patients

Significant productivity and quality of care gains with advanced EMR use

(Toronto, ON) – More! More time to gain experience and use of more functionalities — those are key factors helping family physicians reap productivity and quality of care benefits from electronic medical records (EMRs). According to data analysis released by Canada Health Infoway (Infoway), many family physicians see practice productivity and quality of care gains soon after EMR implementation, but physicians who have used an EMR longer and who use multiple functionalities are more likely to report benefits.

Following the National Physician Survey (NPS) release in December 2014, Infoway requested customized analysis of the NPS data to examine the impact of years of using an EMR and use of multiple functionalities on primary care physicians' perceptions of quality of care and practice productivity.

Data highlights:

  • Most family physicians report that EMR implementation positively impacted the quality of care they provide and the medical practice productivity: 76 per cent report better quality of care; 52 per cent report increased practice productivity
  • Family physicians who have longer experience using an EMR are more likely to report productivity and quality gains
    • Productivity: For those in their first year with an EMR, 36 per cent report a practice productivity increase compared to 61 per cent for those who have been users for six-plus years
    • Quality of care: For those in their first year with an EMR, 60 per cent report the quality of care they provide is better compared to 85 per cent for those who have been users for six-plus years
  • Family physicians who use a broader range of their EMR functions are more likely to report improved quality of care and practice productivity
# Functionalities Used in Patient Care* Productivity % Reporting  Quality of Care % Reporting
 1-5  30 per cent  53 per cent
 6-10  46 per cent  72 per cent
 11-14  63 per cent  86 per cent

 *Functionalities often used in the first year after implementation tend to be related to the Clinical Patient Profile such as clinical data entry, medication lists and direct electronic lab results, while more advanced functionalities include electronic ordering and requests, decision support and interoperability.

  • 77 per cent of family physicians report using an EMR; up 53 percentage points from 2007 and 13 percentage points from 2013. Usage in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Nova Scotia is now over 80 per cent.
  • All provinces demonstrated growth in family physician EMR use between 2013 and 2014; the biggest gains were seen in Quebec (23 percentage points), New Brunswick (29 percentage points) and Newfoundland and Labrador (17 percentage points)

Infoway EMR Investment Program

Infoway co-invests with the provinces and territories to support their efforts to significantly increase the number of clinicians adopting and effectively using an EMR system. By March 31, 2014, Infoway's investments provided more than 19,000 community and ambulatory clinicians with the ability to better manage patient information and access important clinical information.

Infoway has supported peer leader networks in 11 jurisdictions across Canada. More than 500 peer leaders have engaged over 33,000 colleagues in activities ranging from providing advice to clinicians considering implementing an EMR to mentoring nurses, pharmacists, physicians and office staff on how to advance clinical practice using technology.

Additional Resources:

  • Resource: EMR adoption and use resources list
  • Webinar: Infoway NPS Custom Analysis Webinar
  • Data Slides: Infoway NPS Custom Analysis Presentation
  • Article: Advancing Primary Care Use of Electronic Medical Records in Canada
  • Article: Measuring Maturity of Use for Electronic Medical Records in British Columbia: The Physician Information Technology Office


Speaking about his 2010 EMR implementation in his practice, Dr. Michael Golbey who is a family physician and Chair of the Infoway Clinical Council, said: "I would have no hesitation now whatsoever in telling other doctors that this is something you should do. I would say now it's incredibly beneficial for you as a physician, for your staff and absolutely for your patients."

"The National Physician Survey provides important insights into physicians' perspectives on a variety of topics including EMR use," explained Jennifer Zelmer, Executive Vice President, Canada Health Infoway. "We expect the benefits of EMR use, such as improved productivity and better quality of care, to continue to grow as clinicians gain experience with the use of EMRs and access more advanced capabilities."

About the National Physician Survey
Since 2004, the NPS has been the largest census survey in Canada that gathers the opinions of physicians, medical residents and students on a wide range of health care issues.

The NPS is executed collaboratively by the College of Family Physicians of Canada, Canadian Medical Association and Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

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.

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For more information:

Karen Schmidt
Director, Corporate/Internal Communications
Canada Health Infoway
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