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Physician IT

Saskatchewan proceeds along path to EMRs

SASKATOON – Dr. George Miller (pictured), president of the Saskatchewan Medical Association, has informed members in a letter that four EMR vendors that have previously gained preferred vendor status are progressing through the validation process. One company, Optimed, has been granted ‘approved vendor’ status, having completed the conformance testing, implementation pilot and Master Standing Agreement.

Any physicians in Saskatchewan who are currently using this product may now apply and become eligible for EMR program funding as of September 1 and may also qualify for retroactive funding.

Another preferred vendor, Med Access, has signed the Master Standing Agreement and has completed all the required conformance testing. The company will be an approved vendor once it schedules and successfully completes its first pilot implementation in the province.

Practice Solutions has also signed the MSA. The Saskatchewan Medical Association is working with Practice Solutions to schedule the remaining conformance testing processes and the implementation pilot.

Nightingale Informatix has completed its initial round of conformance testing. The SMA is working with Nightingale to schedule the remaining conformance testing, contract, ASP site visit, and pilot implementation work as soon as possible.

Retroactive Funding
Physicians who have already been using a qualified EMR solution from the Approved Vendor list will become eligible to receive a retroactive payment of $500 for every month since April 1, 2008 they have used that EMR, once they have met all requirements under the EMR program.

Dr. Miller said that in response to member’s feedback through the last Representative Assembly, the Board has approved expansion of retroactive payment funding to physicians who are using one of a limited number of EMR solutions that did not qualify as Preferred Vendors. In order to qualify, these solutions must meet a minimum level of technical and functional specifications and have been approved and listed through a formal process by a provincial EMR program in another province as of April 1, 2008.

In order to receive this funding the physician will need to meet the requirements of the EMR program and convert to a qualified EMR solution prior to March 31, 2010. Extensions of this date will be considered where a date for conversion to the new system is not practical by March 31, as long as a contract with an approved vendor is signed and the physician has met the requirements for the EMR program by that time.

Change Management
Change management assistance is available to all clinics as part of the EMR program. This assistance is designed to ensure a smooth transition to one of the qualifying EMR solutions, said Dr. Miller, and to enable physicians to utilize the full capabilities of the new technologies, including provincial EHR services such as electronic lab results as they become available.

“Whether you are moving from a paper-based medical records system or converting from another EMR solution, these change management services are an important element of the EMR program,” said Dr. Miller. “We are pleased to announce Myrna Ferster has joined the SMA as an EMR Change Management Advisor. The team of Roy Robb, Myrna Ferster and Danielle Post, with support from the Transition & Change Management Team at the Ministry of Health’s Health Information Solution Centre, will work with you and your clinic staff to walk you through the EMR process and provide as much assistance as you require to ensure a successful implementation.”

Peer to Peer Program
As part of the Ministry of Health and Canada Health Infoway Peer to Peer program, six physicians in the province have been trained to provide support to other physicians during the move to one of the qualified EMR solutions. The peers will provide their expertise and answer questions or concerns from a “physician’s viewpoint.”