Almost two years ago I left the security of a hospital-based practice to a venture in the community with some great colleagues. I previously had the comfort of an EMR integrated to the local hospital where I would receive, in real-time, my lab and DI reports, discharge summaries, etc. all electronically. It was not until my second EMR implementation in my new endeavour where I 'remembered' the agony of paper.
I receive on a weekly basis about 3 inches of reports from the hospital and specialists – I go through this manually and then it is scanned in to our EMR. In a paper world, I do not have the ability to trend data easily and looking up previous results has slowed down my review. I sadly do not have the luxury of easy order reconciliation nor one-click access to a patient's chart to create new tasks. While many of these tasks would save me time, ultimately it is having all of this information electronically that helps me manage my patients better. Thankfully, there is a light at the end of the tunnel - our new EMR will have integration by the end of this year. I cannot stress strongly enough how welcome this will be. It was certainly a stretch to go back to paper review and the scanning of seemingly never-ending reams of paper!
My ability to stay on top of the paperwork in a busy family practice has been very much hampered by the need to partly remain in a paper world. I find that efficiencies that I previously found are gone – having said that, the new EMR is far superior to the previous and that has provided me with efficiencies in other areas. Not to say that it will be a 'perfect world' once we are integrated, however I do know that my patient care will be stronger for it. Totally can't wait to be 'reconnected!'
Dr. Keith W Wilson, Family Physician, Assistant Professor, Family Medicine, Dalhousie University
Dr. Keith Wilson has been teaching and practicing Family Medicine in Saint John, New Brunswick for over 10 years. He has acted as consultant for a number of IT projects locally and provincially and has previously worked at the National Research Council exploring electronic personal health records. He currently is chair of the medical advisory committee for New Brunswick’s EMR programme, managed by Velante. He is a strong advocate of electronic technologies in the delivery of healthcare Canada-wide.