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Business - Written by on Monday, March 16, 2009 16:53 - 12 Comments

Electronic Medical Records, Part One : Ontario health care and the twenty-year lag

A recent story from CBC News explains that a shortage of health care staff in Northern Ontario is being alleviated, in part, by digitital health records. That article sparked this blog post, which is Part One of a two-part examinination of the digitization of health records – aka the movement towards EMR (electronic medical records).

When I was about 5 years old, my school library kept track of its books using little cue cards stashed by the hundreds in tiny drawers (you all know what I’m talking about). All of my book searches since kindergarten have involved a computer. Am I to believe that our libraries did, almost 20 years ago, what our health care system is starting to do now?

The CBC article tells us that, “Digital networks help to bridge staffing gaps at Canadian hospitals.” It is true – hospitals in Ontario (and the rest of  Canada) have only recently started the move towards EMR. If the digitization of, say, written communication made headlines, people would be wondering how they ended-up back in 1994. Imagine reading the following headline today: “Canadian companies use electronic mail to cut-out time spent waiting for letters to get to Europe.”


It seems unjustifiable that our health care system has not made better use of technology. I see little downside in using technology that we’ve been using for years in countless domains, to get care to people (eg Northern Ontarions in need of a radiologist) who have been waiting far too long.

My criticism is tempered by knowing that there are political, social, and financial barriers to the widespread digitization of medical records that don’t exist for libraries, for example. But do they justify the almost 20-year technology lag? It seems unforgivable, given that our health care system could have been benefitting from increased efficiency through EMR years ago.

What the barriers along the path to EMR are exactly, I’m not sure. I can only imagine that they are significant, as they have imposed a 20-year technology lag on our health care system. Part Two of my look at the state of electronic medical records in Ontario will seek to unveil these barriers. Watch for it next week and do chip-in with any insight you have on the barriers to EMR.


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Mar 20, 2009 7:57

very intresting

Wikinomics» Blog Archive » Electronic Medical Records, Part One … : Boston EMR
Mar 21, 2009 10:06

[...] Read the original: Wikinomics» Blog Archive » Electronic Medical Records, Part One … [...]

Wikinomics» Blog Archive » EMR Part 2 : What’s the hold-up?
Mar 23, 2009 19:43

[...] Electronic Medical Records, Part One : Ontario health care and the twenty-year lag [...]

Jay Andrews
May 22, 2009 13:09

Electronic medical record systems lie at the center of any computerised health information system. Without them other modern technologies such as decision support systems cannot be effectively integrated into routine clinical workflow.

A Deshpande
May 28, 2009 23:21

May be its not so much the technology or even the users that pose the greatest barriers. It is more likely the endless political machinations and greed by administrators in the health system. It’s easy to grease the wheels when there is no accountability…

When will people realize that there is an ‘underworld’ here too, they just dress better than everyone else and have offices.


Wikinomics Blog Archive Electronic Medical Records Part One | Uniform Stores
Jun 1, 2009 7:52

[...] Wikinomics Blog Archive Electronic Medical Records Part One Posted by root 16 minutes ago (http://www.wikinomics.com) A recent story from cbc news explains that a shortage of health care staff in northern your website your comment wikinomics is powered by wordpress Discuss  |  Bury |  News | Wikinomics Blog Archive Electronic Medical Records Part One [...]

Andy Stones
Jun 9, 2009 5:04

Its nice that more and more are dealing with EMR, for it is one of the latest in medical technology. Everything is changing and continuosly progressing, so why not medical recording. EMR or electronic medical records are very helpful nowadays because it is easier to access your medical info. EMR are fast and reliable for they are govern by a physician, in the same way, the consumer controls his or her own health information. EMR is considered to be one of client’s partner in healthcare.

Mar 17, 2010 8:03

Physicians are totally antiquated in their use of the computer. Its funny – a recent “study” showed that 60% of physicians are thinking of purchasing an “iPad”, yet hardly any use electronic medical records!

There are physicians out there who have purchased electronic medical records and have paid them off in ONE YEAR because of increased efficiency and decreased costs.

Jessica Jenson
Jun 26, 2010 17:47

Great article! I love all the details you added, it was all very imformative.I am looking forward to reading more of your articles.Keep up the good work

Jul 1, 2010 13:37

I really enjoyed your post. I have read over a few other posts you have up and I will say you have done a great job of blogging. I will be looking for new post daily…Keep up the good work! I hope you will also find my blog interesting.Nice knowledge content…

Jul 26, 2010 3:37

I really enjoyed your blog post comments about “Electronic Medical Records, Part One : Ontario health care and the twenty-year lag”. This blog gives me a ocean of knowledge. Thanks for your post.
Keep it up!!

Ash Ivers
Oct 12, 2010 17:49

I just found out about EMR and truthfully, i dont like the idea one bit at all, i prefer the system the way it is, especially after reading politicians reading a vet’s medical files. this whole idea opens up privacy issues for everyone. What kindof information is to be recorded? Who all gets to see it?

I go to my doctors office and i expect my privacy. When I am at a hospital, i expect my privacy there even More. and this system puts my faith in that in serious doubt.

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