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Physician IT

Ontario announces $236 million for doctors’ EMRs

TORONTO – Under a new program, eHealth Ontario will partner with OMA subsidiary OntarioMD to implement the “EMR Adoption Program.” With support and investment of approximately $236 million from eHealth Ontario, the new program will broaden and accelerate physician adoption of EMRs over the next three years. This means EMRs will be accessible to more physicians, allowing them to leverage information technology to improve patient care and practice efficiency.

“There is pent-up demand for this program”, said Dr. Suzanne Strasberg (pictured), President of the Ontario Medical Association. Ensuring that electronic medical records are available in every doctor’s office is an important step towards improving and strengthening Ontario’s health care system.”

The previous Primary Care IT Program provided funding to 3,300 family physicians for EMRs in Ontario. The new EMR Adoption Program will see this number increase by 5,700, to a total of 9,000 physicians, with the ability to provide 10 million Ontarians with an electronic medical record by 2012.

All practice-based primary care physicians and, for the first time, specialists are eligible for the program. The program will provide both one-time and monthly funding, as well as transition and adoption support services. Early EMR adopters, who helped expand and evolve the program, are also eligible for a monthly subsidy in order to upgrade their EMRs to the latest certified specification.

The new funding program stipulates that all physicians operating in practices of less than three physicians will qualify for funding if they use a certified Application Service Provider solution (ASP) hosted at eHealth Ontario.

Under the program, eligible physicians will receive subsidies to transform their offices. They will receive approximately $28,000 over three years to assist in successfully adopting a certified electronic medical records system. The balance of the investment helps physicians with change management, adoption support services, technology enhancements and access to web-based information. The total cost of the program is $236 million over three years.

“These systems help physicians advance patient safety and provide better care through medication management and special features for patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes,” said Rob Devitt, interim President and CEO of eHealth Ontario.

New EMR Adopter funding is intended to promote and enable physician office transformation from paper-based to electronic medical records increasing timely access to patient information when and where it is needed. The funding will include both one-time payments and monthly subsidies.

In addition to EMR funding, the program also includes transition support services to assist physician practices in the necessary organizational changes when advancing information technology. These services are provided by OntarioMD at no cost to program participants.

Posted November 12, 2009