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Physician IT

BC announces preliminary EMR vendors

VANCOUVER – As part of a joint initiative between the British Columbia government and the BC Medical Association, six successful proponents have been selected to enter negotiations for the provision of electronic medical records technology over the next five years to eligible physicians across the province.

The vendors, selected by the Physician Information Technology Office (PITO), are:

• Clinicare Corporation
• Intrahealth Canada Ltd
• Med Access
• Wolf Medical
• xwave Healthcare

In an e-mail from the BCMA, physicians are reminded that these vendors are not the final PITO approved list, since the vendors will have to successfully complete the negotiation and conformance testing prior to their being approved.
As noted on the CanadianEMR web site (, PITO is governed by a six person PITO Steering Committee, with three practicing physicians appointed by the BCMA and three members by Government. With ratification of the agreement, a PITO Steering Committee was set up to define the initial aspects of the program and in June, 2007 Jeremy Smith was announced as the PITO Program Director. Over the term of the six-year agreement (April 1, 2006 to March 31, 2012) there is funding as follows:

• $20 million in one-time funding, and

• Annual funding levels that increase to $24.9 million by year six of the agreement.

PITO will coordinate the implementation of the information technology (IT) products and services with vendors and physician practices, and will disburse the IT funds to physicians as defined in the Agreement.

According to the BC government and the BCMA, physicians using electronic medical records will be able to:

• Reduce paperwork and process lab results and referrals in their offices faster to improve patient services;

• Instantly access latest clinical information and tools to help patients manage chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and arthritis;

• Develop preventive care practices by analyzing local community needs;

• Increase security of patient records; and

• Integrate other eHealth tools like electronic prescribing and ordering of diagnostic tests.

“Although we live in an electronic world, physician’s offices have not kept pace. However with the implementation of EMRs, the health care our patients receive will be better coordinated, better managed, and more efficient,” said Dr. Geoff Appleton, (pictured), President of the BC Medical Association. “Patient records will be more accessible to health-care providers that need the information to deliver effective patient care, and they will be much more secure than is the current practice of storing thousands of paper files.”

Included in last year’s agreement between the provincial government and the BC Medical Association was the Physician Information Technology Office (PITO), in which government committed approximately $108 million to assist physicians in implementing electronic medical records in their practices.

A clinical advisory group of physicians, the six Health Authorities and the College of Physicians and Surgeons are also participating to ensure the electronic medical records systems meet physicians’ needs.

Electronic medical records are one of B.C.’s seven eHealth projects. The other six are:

• The interoperable Electronic Health Record (iEHR) – infrastructure to enable secure and authorized access to health records from anywhere in the province;
• The Provincial Laboratory Information Solution Project (PLIS) – consolidated lab results;

• The eDrug Project (eDrug) – enhancing PharmaNet;

• The Provincial Diagnostic Imaging Project (Connecting DI) – sharing patient diagnostic text reports and images;

• The Public Health Information Project (PHIP) – public health information management; and

• Telehealth – services over distance, in rural and remote areas and for First Nations.

The BC government said that all patient information will be protected by privacy measures that are among the strongest in Canada. The personal health information in the electronic medical record will comply with the Province’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the Personal Information Privacy Act and clauses of the Canada Health Act that govern the use of information for health-related purposes.

In addition, access to patient information will be restricted only to staff in each physician’s practice that have a legal right and clear need to access the information.