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Government & policy

Quebec to speed up development of EMRs

QUEBEC CITY – Quebec has announced a $547 million plan to create a province-wide system of electronic medical records by the year 2011.

The system is expected to improve the delivery of healthcare by providing physicians with faster access to more extensive and accurate information about the patients they are treating.

According to reports in the Montreal Gazette newspaper, and from the CBC news services, the federal government will provide $303 million of financing, with Quebec paying the remaining $244 million.

Health Minister Philippe Couillard (pictured above), a neurosurgeon before entering politics, said the new system will include information about medication histories, lab test results, diagnostic imaging, allergies, and the names of doctors, pharmacists and other health professionals who have treated a patient.

Using teleradiology, a physician in Montreal would be able interpret the test results of a patient in the Gaspe or other remote regions.

Couillard said it will be beneficial to have the whole medical record together to avoid prescribing conflicting medications, which can result in hospitalization. The digital system also will avoid duplicating tests.

The previous Parti Quebecois government considered a system using “smart” cards, with an imbedded computer chip containing medical information.

Couillard said the government has decided it won’t go that way, and unlike the PQ proposal, which called for one central database, the Liberal government will not create one database, but instead will establish regional databases.

Building the digital health network will result in an estimated $375 million in contracts for Quebec companies, creating 6,300 jobs.