Project gives pharmacists access to
STE-MARIE, Ont. – A $3.5 million initiative that gives Sault Ste. Marie
pharmacists access to clinical information about patients is expected to
help reduce medication errors and provide better patient care.
The partners in the project are Canada Health Infoway, the Group Health
Centre and the Ontario Pharmacists’ Association.
An Electronic Medical Record system, established several years ago at
the Group Health Centre, will now be extended to include pharmacists, in
an initiative called EMRxtra. The information will be shared in a secure
manner and will require patient consent.
“We’re pleased to help support this initiative, which will not only help
to improve the quality of care for patients of the Group Health Centre
but can also serve as a model for improving healthcare in Canada,” said
Richard Alvarez, Infoway’s President and CEO. Infoway is investing $2
million in EMRxtra.
“The Group Health Centre is a well-known leader and pioneer in primary
care delivery and in the utilization of technology by a
multidisciplinary team,” said Teresa D’Angelo
(pictured), Interim COO of the GHC. “This innovative program will
allow us to expand our existing circle of care to integrate pharmacists
into our programs.”
With the permission of participating patients, pharmacists will be able
to access patient drug profiles, current lab test results, clinical
intent of prescribed medications and the patient’s care plan.
Over 20 pharmacies will participate in EMRxtra, which includes 40 to 50
pharmacists. The project will first be used with a pilot group of
several hundred patients and will then be extended to all 60,000
patients at the GHC.
Pharmacists, who are considered to be trusted and accessible community
healthcare practitioners, provide a significant contribution to primary
care delivery, particularly in the area of chronic disease and
Studies have shown that pharmacist interventions in collaboration with
physicians are very effective in cases of patients with chronic
“The addition of pharmacists is a natural and long overdue component of
the circle of care. This program will enable me to make better use of
the expertise provided by pharmacists, make more efficient use of my
time and hopefully provide a more convenient and effective patient
experience,” said Dr. Lewis O’Brien, Family Physician, Algoma District
Medical Group, and Physician Lead for the EMRxtra Project:
“With access to an electronic system, pharmacists in Sault Ste. Marie
will be able to fully collaborate with physicians and the rest of the
provider team and resolve drug related issues more effectively and
efficiently for their patients,” said Marc Kealey, CEO of the Ontario
This initiative will also provide patients with greater access to their
individual Electronic Medical Record, which includes a record of
diagnoses and treatment, including medications. A personalized
web-accessible patient record tool will enhance engagement of patients
in the self-management and decision-making process.
For its part, Infoway is an independent not-for-profit organization that
invests with public sector partners across Canada to implement and reuse
compatible health information systems which support a safer, more
efficient healthcare system.
These systems provide healthcare professionals with rapid access to
complete and accurate patient information, enabling better decisions
about treatment and diagnosis. The result is a sustainable, healthcare
system offering improved quality, accessibility and productivity.
The Group Health Centre is a multi-disciplinary, not-for-profit
community-based health organization serving over 60,000 primary care
patients in Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma District. GHC is one of the most
technologically advanced physician group practices (The Algoma District
Medical Group) in Canada, with an electronic medical record (EMR) system
implemented since 1997.
With the exception of pharmacist service, which is provided indirectly
through pharmacies in the community, GHC’s multi-disciplinary team is
comprehensive, including physicians, nurse practitioners,
physiotherapists, chiropodists, dietitians, optometrists, audiologists
Ontario Pharmacists’ Association is the professional advocacy
association representing the views and interests of over 10,000
practicing pharmacists and pharmacists-in-training, in Canada’s largest
province. OPA advocates for the quality care and well being of
Ontarians. OPA recognizes the transformation agenda of Ontario and
endorses the effective use of information technology as one of the key
strategies to support integration, collaboration and professional
It has also been an active promoter of EHR solutions and has been
involved in various e-Health initiatives – including the Ontario Health
Informatics Standards Council (OHISC), Client Registry and Information
Management (CRIM), Secured Messaging Project from Smart Systems for
Health Agency (SSHA), and others.