Over 20% of physicians use an EHR:
is a corrected version of an article that previously appeared on the
Canadian Healthcare Technology newsletter and website.)
OTTAWA – The Canadian Institute for Health Information has posted a new
analysis presenting data on the percentages of family physicians who
reported using electronic health records (EHR).
Given the benefits of and investments made in the EHR, and the level of
contact Canadians have with their family doctors, learning about
physicians' EHR usage patterns is becoming increasingly important.
The data are based on the results of the 2004 National Physician Survey.
Nearly 22,000 physicians across Canada completed the 2004 survey. This
is over one-third of Canada’s eligible physician workforce (35.85%). The
analysis includes the following highlights:
When all physicians in Canada are considered, the number “having” an EHR
is 26.3%; the number “using” an EHR is 20.6%.
That's much higher than many earlier sources have indicated, as many
pundits previously estimated EHR usage by Canadian physicians to be in
the area of 5% to 10%.
According to the study, 20.9% of family physicians across Canada report
having an EHR. However, the figure for GPs who report actually “using”
the EHR drops to 16.4%.
The study found that specialists are more likely to employ and use an
EHR; the number of specialists who reported “having” and EHR was 32.2%,
and the number who “used” it was 25.2%.
Some variation in reported use of EHR exists among provinces, with
physicians living in Newfoundland, Alberta and Ontario being the most
likely to say they use an EHR (32.7%%, 25.8%, and 24.2% respectively).
PEI, Saskatchewan and Quebec registered the lowest usage of EHRs by
physicians, with usage percentages of 6.3%, 11.8% and 12.3%
In a related topic, 3.4% of physicians said they use electronic
interfaces to pharmacies/pharmacists.
However, 22.7% of physicians said they use an electronic interface to
external laboratory/diagnostic imaging centres.
As well, 12.6% said they use electronic interfaces to other external
systems for accessing or sharing patient information.
The study found that 10.4% of physicians used an electronic warning
system for adverse prescribing and/or drug interactions.
It found that 10.0% used electronic decision aids; 43.2% used online
access to journals, clinical practice guidelines, or medical databases.
According to the survey, 26% of family physicians aged 34 or under
reported using electronic health records while 17% of family physicians
aged 65 or older reported using electronic health records.
A slightly higher proportion of male family physicians report using
electronic health records when compared to female family physicians.
Questions dealing with information technology were part of the 2004
National Physician Survey (NPS), which was organized by the College of
Family Physicians of Canada, the Canadian Medical Association, and the
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
Detailed survey information, including methodology, questionnaires, and
results, is available on the NPS website at