When I first began speaking and writing about technology use by physicians, EMR users were a minority. Over the past 10 years, Electronic Medical Records have become mainstream. New graduates would not consider joining or establishing a medical practice that does not have an EMR, and mobile tools such as tablets and smartphones have become almost ubiquitous amongst both physicians and patients. In Canada, we still face inconsistent adoption of EMRs within the provinces, and fragmentation in the EMR market. This is due to provincial certification strategies that have served to encourage adoption at the provincial level but have not been successful in establishing national standards for sharing information between EMRs or for ePrescribing. There have also been successes, particularly in the management of chronic diseases where EMRs are being used more extensively and more effectively to track, recall, and manage complex populations of patients.
In the last 10 years, technology has exploded, driven by smaller, cheaper devices and faster networks. Telehealth has become standard fare in remote communities and face-to-face videoconferencing is used extensively anywhere one has a wireless connection. Remote and home monitoring is being used to manage patients in their homes. Diagnostic imaging is now largely electronic, prescribing data is available via provincial repositories in some provinces. Medical practice websites, personal health records, and patient portals are used extensively. If we stopped for a moment to look back on the progress, it is quite remarkable how rapidly the transition has taken place.
However, as extensive as the explosion in technology has been, we are faced with a new problem. How do we use the technology effectively in our practices and integrate it into what we do? It is no longer about the technology; we are now getting into the application phase of making it real.
Between March 27 and April 6, the CanadianEMR Technology in Clinical Practice cruise conference will take place in Tahiti and the Society Islands. We will be joined by 70 attendees and their families, and the focus of the conference will be how to use technology more effectively in the delivery of patient care. One of our faculty will be preparing his presentations using Apple’s iBook publisher software to create materials that can be shared with attendees after the conference in a multimedia format combining video with text. The conference will also not just be about EMRs. In addition to cardiology and neurology topics, I will be as interested as other attendees in learning how our faculty are using diagnostic and monitoring technologies in their practices.
Are you using technology in innovative ways in your practice to deliver better care to patients? Share your experiences by clicking on the “Comments” link below.