When a drug recall takes place, does your family doctor have the ability to identify which patients are on that drug and notify them in a timely manner?
For more than a third of Canadian doctors that may be very difficult.
Canadian doctors have been slow to adopt electronic medical records (EMRs) and even slower to interact with patients in a virtual environment. Very few Canadians can simply e-mail their doctor or book an appointment on-line.
Speaking at Longwood’s Breakfast with the Chiefs forum this morning, Dr. Jennifer Zelmer, executive vice-president with Canada Health Infoway, points out that if patients were able to renew their prescriptions on-line, view their own test results, and consult virtually with physicians when they wanted, it would lead to 47 million fewer in-person visits and require us to take 18.8 million hours less off work to show up in the doctor’s office.
At present only 64 per cent of Canadian physicians are reporting EMR use – albeit that is up from 16 per cent in 2004. That means it’s taken nearly a decade to persuade an additional 48 per cent of physicians to get on board. Do we really have the patience to wait another decade for the rest to follow?