box10.gif (1299 bytes)







Medication management

Project gives pharmacists access to patient records

SAULT 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 medication management.

Studies have shown that pharmacist interventions in collaboration with physicians are very effective in cases of patients with chronic diseases.

“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 Pharmacists’ Association.

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 and others.

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 services.

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.