Four reasons you should care about EMRs

Imagine all of your health information available at the click of a mouse. Your lab results, medication profile, referrals, discharge summaries all in one place – for you, your doctor and everyone on your extended healthcare team.

With 75 per cent  of Canadian physicians now using Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), we’re not too far from this vision. But we still lag behind other G7 countries. Many practitioners still use paper records, meaning not only inconvenience but often substandard care.

Here are four reasons we as patients, healthcare providers and taxpayers should care about, and advocate for, full EMR adoption in Canada.

1) Convenient, high quality healthcare

When all authorized caregivers can access your complete medical history anywhere, anytime, it means less time repeating your medical history and pacing in waiting rooms. It means more efficiency, better decisions and ultimately, healthier outcomes.

2) Secure interactions

Unlike paper records, EMRs are not in danger of getting lost, damaged or destroyed. Your health details are not only backed up, they are protected from theft and tampering through the Canadian government’s strict privacy regulations and procedures.

3) Better management of our own health

Good EMRs will have portals that let patients contribute data like blood pressure readings to their overall health picture. Through portals, patients take a much more active role in health, collaborating with doctors to track the impact of treatments and adjust behaviours to prevent disease. This is especially critical when managing chronic disease.

4) Collaborative care

EMRs give the whole team – doctors, specialists, pharmacists, technicians –complete and secure access to accurate and up-to-date information on your health. Imagine!

Though challenging, EMR adoption is a critical step in the right direction. How do we ensure success?

I believe it comes down to partnerships between governments, healthcare practitioners and the technology sector. Strong collaboration will get the right tools into the hands of caregivers and patients to ensure world-class care and healthy Canadians.

Dr. Michael Guerriere is Chief Medical Officer and Vice-President, Transformation Services at TELUS Health