Primary care practices with electronic medical records identified patients who need preventative or follow-up care approximately 30 times more quickly than paper-based clinics, according to a study commissioned by Canada Health Infoway, a not-for-profit organization funded by the Canadian government.
Researchers from St. Mary’s Research Centre, MedbASE Research and McGill University challenged participating clinics to review their patients’ records to identify those who would benefit from six different types of evidence-based interventions: immunization, follow-up care after a heart attack, cancer screening, diabetes management and two medication recalls.
“These results demonstrate the value of EMRs in enabling clinicians to deliver high-quality patient care in a timely fashion,” said Richard Alvarez, president and CEO of Canada Health Infoway.
“The good news is that the number of family physicians using EMRs has grown significantly in recent years, improving quality of care and supporting more efficient care delivery in practices across Canada.”
Practices using EMRs reviewed the records of all their active patients in an average of 1.4 hours.
Paper-based practices of approximately the same size reviewed 10 per cent of all active charts in 3.9 hours, which means that they would have needed an estimated 40 hours to conduct a full practice review.
Practices with EMRs were also more confident in their ability to contact all the right patients to receive the appropriate treatment or intervention in a timely manner. On a scale of one to five, where five is very confident and one is not confident, EMR-based practices were more confident in their reviews than paper-based practices (average score of 3.8 vs. 1.9).
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