Medical resident data from the 2010 National Physician Survey was released on September 28 confirming widespread exposure to information technology while in training. Of the 2,546 residents who responded to the survey, 78.6% stated they had used or been exposed to electronic medical records to enter/retrieve patient clinical notes during their clinical training. Meanwhile, 91.5% confirmed exposure in hospital settings and 60.2% in physician office settings.
A total of 81.5% of family medicine residents and 75% of residents in other specialties stated that they expected to use electronic medical records to enter/retrieve patient clinical notes instead of paper when they entered into practice.
With overall adoption rates of EMR in private medical practice settings across Canada in the range of 37% (some provinces have higher adoption rates, namely Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta), many new graduates will either be disappointed by the prevalence of paper records in many of the practices they wish to join, or they will need to finance the establishment of new medical practices including the implementation of electronic medical records.
I am not aware of many new graduates willing to take on the additional debt load at time of graduation necessary to set up a medical practice. This essentially creates a mismatch between expectation and reality for the new graduates. Those who choose to do locums in order to gain experience and repay loans will similarly find themselves having to work at least 50% of the time in paper-based practices or walk-in clinics.
One observation from this data is the high likelihood that practicing physicians will not be able to attract new graduates to join their practices unless they have an EMR. This is a compelling reason to adopt EMRs in order to ensure continuity of care for one’s patients.
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