Ambulatory EMR Use Delivers Health System and Patient Benefits

$200 million in estimated annual value realized in 2015

(Toronto) – Electronic medical record (EMR) use in ambulatory care, along with complementary technologies, is yielding health system and patient benefits such as improved patient safety, continuity of care and clinic efficiency, according to a new study released today.

The Infoway commissioned Emerging Benefits of EMR Use in Ambulatory Care in Canada: Benefits Evaluation Study also points to more upside potential with advanced use and continued EMR adoption in ambulatory care settings. Authored by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the study drew on more than 200 research publications, as well as recent Canadian research and reports, and key informant interviews.

“Interoperable EMRs are an important tool in supporting coordination and quality of care between hospital-based ambulatory clinics and other care settings,” explained Michael Green, President & CEO, Canada Health Infoway. “Health system and patient benefits from ambulatory care EMR use are valued at $200 million and enhanced system efficiencies enabled 1.2 million more patient visits in 2015 alone.”

Study Highlights:

  • 57 per cent of EMR-enabled clinics reported that EMR use had been beneficial for improving quality of care
    • Clinics with access to external data sources, those using more advanced functions and those that transitioned to a fully paperless environment were more likely to report EMR use had a positive impact on improving quality of care (66 per cent, 74 per cent and 87 per cent respectively)
  • Estimated $200 million in annual value realized in 2015
    • $95 million from reduced clinician time spent on chart management processes
    • $46 million from avoided duplicate laboratory tests and $37 million from avoided duplicate diagnostic tests
    • $13 million from reduced hospitalizations due to adverse drug events
    • $4 million realized by patients when availability of required heath information avoided unnecessary delays in care
  • Approximately 1.2 million additional patient visits in 2015 resulting from enhanced clinic efficiency
  • The report includes a special focus highlighting the specific values in outpatient cancer care:
    • 201,000 – the estimated number of fewer days patients spent waiting from consultation to first treatment
    • 15,500 – additional radiation therapy treatments
    • 4,000 – additional systemic therapy treatments

“When ambulatory EMRs are used with complementary technologies such as decision support and comprehensive medication profiles across settings, they help reduce adverse drug events leading to fewer emergency department visits and hospitalizations,” explained Green.

The study also outlines the most common barriers to realizing benefits such as mixed paper/electronic systems, multiple logins, system design and functionality gaps, misalignments with clinical requirements and workflow, and a lack of available equipment.

“The use of EMRs in ambulatory care is still relatively new, and there is potential for even greater benefits with increased adoption,” continued Green. “With approximately 45 million ambulatory care visits in Canada in 2014, the potential benefits for patients, specialists, and the health care system is significant,” concluded Green.

The full study document includes a core set of recommendations, priority research areas, and critical success factors for future implementations.

In partnership with hospital organizations and the provinces and territories, Infoway’s investments included 22 ambulatory care EMR implementation projects impacting approximately 25,000 clinicians in nine provinces.

Read the backgrounder.

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.

About PricewaterhouseCoopers

PwC Canada helps organizations and individuals create the value they’re looking for. More than 5,700 partners and staff in offices across the country are committed to delivering quality in assurance, tax, consulting and deals services. PwC Canada is a member of the PwC network of firms with more than 180,000 people in 158 countries. © 2016 PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, an Ontario limited liability partnership. All rights reserved. PwC refers to the Canadian member firm, and may sometimes refer to the PwC network. Each member firm is a separate legal entity. Please see for further details.


For more information: 

Karen Schmidt
Director, Corporate/Internal Communications
Canada Health Infoway
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