Dialogue Volume 13 Issue 3 2017 - Page 41

PRACTICE PARTNER physicians using EMRs than all the other provinces combined. But while clinicians across the province have begun to embrace digital health, many have yet to realize the full potential of EMRs, said Sarah Hutchison, CEO, Ontari- oMD. “When EMR use hit the tipping point in the province, we shifted our mandate from playing a lead role in EMR adoption to instead focusing on providing advice to help clinicians learn how to get the most from their EMRs,” she said. Dr. Jeff Habert, a family physician from Thornhill, has been an OntarioMD Peer Leader since 2012 and a College assessor since 2004. Wearing both hats has allowed him to help doctors understand how to better optimize their EMRs from both a technical and clinical perspective. He says he frequently meets with doctors who’ve been using an EMR for several years, but who still have not explored its full potential. In many of these cases, he sees that their frustration is rooted in three things: lack of training, data input, and organization of patient informa- tion. By focusing on these areas, Dr. Habert can usually help his colleagues realize signifi- cant EMR gains in a short period of time. “I always hear that an EMR is a lot of work. That may be true for up to 12 months. But anyone who says this after 12 months with an EMR is doing something wrong,” says Dr. Habert. Take the training Dr. Habert says most of the clinicians he works with as a Peer Leader were never fully trained on the technology. While lack of time is a fact of life in any busy practice, the first step in realizing the full power of EMRs is to under- stand how they work – and how they can be adapted to fit a practice’s unique needs. “Doctors who adopt an EMR and don’t learn about its full potential and how it can fit into their workflow will never optimize its potential,” he says. “It’s like buying a car – if you drive off the lot without having gone through the training session with the dealer, you’ll never understand all of your car’s capabilities.” Several hours of vendor-led training are built into the price of an EMR. But many physicians only take advantage of a small portion of this time. Dr. Habert stresses that clinicians should tap into every minute of initial training avail able to them – and buy more hours from the vendor if needed. After that, he advises doctors to experiment with the EMR for six months to understand it and determine how it can fit into workflows, and then contact an OntarioMD Peer Leader to help understand how the technology can be optimized to fill any workflow gaps. Dr. Jeff Habert, a College assessor and Peer Leader Quality in, quality out The most common issue for physicians who have received insufficient training on their EMRs is patient data being inefficiently or incorrectly entered into the EMR. He says it’s not enough to simply enter accurate patient data into the right areas of an EMR. In order to take advantage of many of the advanced EMR features like tracking and managing target patient populations and generating recall lists, all data needs to be entered using standardized terms so it’s easily searchable. He calls the cumulative patient profile (CPP) the “backbone” of any good EMR. Moreover, the College’s Medical Records policy states that for family physicians ISSUE 3, 2017 DIALOGUE 41