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What do family doctors tell us about using technology in their practices?

Meet Dr. Alex Singer of Winnipeg, a leader in maximizing the potential of electronic medical records (EMRs).

When asked about how well Canadian family doctors have done at adopting EMRs, Singer notes that those who really want to use them are already doing so .

“We’ve come a long way from 2009 when EMR use was at 37%. From the current data that I’ve seen, those who haven’t adopted them are older or are in solo practice. For group practices, it’s hard to manage a team without EMRs .”

Singer suggests that EMRs are limited in their ability to facilitate information sharing, as they aren’t “meaningfully integrated” into a central cloud-based system.

“We still use our EMRs as electronic paper records, where they reflect paper processes on a computer screen,” says Singer, who also noted that unlike banking or airline systems, EMRs can’t be accessed by doctors from any location.

Singer offers that one possible way to support online access to health data is to build the infrastructure with the portability of a patient’s information as a key design feature, much like how phones work — where the exchange of information is consistent regardless of the sending or receiving device.

How to cite the survey results:
Canadian Institute for Health Information. How Canada Compares: Results From the Commonwealth Fund’s 2019 International Health Policy Survey of Primary Care Physicians. Ottawa, ON: CIHI; 2020.