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Clinical information systems

Saskatchewan moves ahead with physician IT

REGINA – Health Minister Don McMorris and Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) President Dr. Joe Pfeifer have signed an agreement whereby the provincial government and SMA will each commit $2 million annually to assist physicians with computerizing their patients’ medical records.

When fully implemented in 2014-15, the government’s cost will be $7.26 million per year, with a total program cost of $10.37 million.

“We are working closely with the SMA to ensure physician offices are automated to enhance patient safety,” McMorris said. “Having access to enhanced information will help Saskatchewan healthcare professionals offer the highest quality of care to their patients.”

Automation will allow physicians – from the convenience of their office – to access patients’ medical information in a timely and well-managed way, avoiding duplication of services, reducing service delays, and enhancing patient privacy by eliminating paper files.

Physicians will be able to access a patient’s lab work and diagnostic imaging such as X-rays or CT scans, review a patient’s prescription history and electronically write prescriptions that can be picked up at any pharmacy, and better manage chronic diseases through the use of electronic tracking tools.

“As always, Saskatchewan residents’ personal health information remains completely confidential,” McMorris said. “And only authorized healthcare professionals involved in a patient’s care will be able to access it.”

“Saskatchewan’s physicians are excited about the many ways this initiative will enhance patient care and improve access to health services,” Dr. Pfeifer said. “With the signing of this agreement, Saskatchewan is taking a major step forward in making the best technology and the best care available to our patients.”

The annual cost to implement an electronic record is approximately $11,300 per physician. Through the agreement, physicians will recover approximately $7,700 annually over the longer-term to offset these costs.

The electronic medical records program joins the Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS), and the Pharmaceutical Information Program (PIP) as one of the first components of a provincial electronic health record.