In a letter to members sent out on March 12, 2014 by Doctors of BC (formally BCMA) President, Dr. William Cunningham confirmed that significant changes are about to take place with respect to the PITO funding program.
- The negotiated funds for the PITO program end on March 31, 2014. Attempts to negotiate further funds with government were unsuccessful and the PITO initiative is now considered complete and successful in reaching its objective of encouraging adoption of EMRs in community practices;
- Approximately 5,000 physicians are now using EMRs in BC (90% of targeted physicians);
- In order to assist physicians to reach a level of 'Meaningful Use' of their EMR systems, funding is being provided by the General Practice Services Committee and the Specialist Services Committee to support this optimization phase of EMR use for one additional year. Exact details of this funding are not yet available;
- Ongoing monthly reimbursement of costs will no longer be paid beyond the conclusion of the contract - meaning that physicians will no longer receive funds to offset the cost of monthly vendor service fees (ranging from $200-$400 per month per physician).
Beyond the financial costs, Dr. Cunningham has recommended that physicians considering a transition from their ASP (remotely hosted) EMR systems to a local server version in order to reduce costs, think carefully about this change as only the secure ASP systems will be allowed to connect directly with provincial systems. This is particularly important in relation to new systems planned to start in the next 1-2 years.
The changes are dramatic, but not entirely unexpected. Physicians will begin feeling the bite of monthly EMR fees that were previously subsidized and will need to make adjustments to ensure that cash-flows are management optimally. Similar changes are expected in Alberta as the POSP program winds down at the conclusion of that province's provincial contract.
As more information becomes available on BC and Alberta, I will share through CanadianEMR.
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