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Physician IT

Alberta to reduce number of funded EMR vendors

EDMONTON – The Physician Office System Program (POSP) in Alberta is reducing the number of certified vendors to five by the end of 2008. Currently, there are 13 vendors that have been accredited by POSP; when physicians implement these solutions, they qualify for funding from the program.

Two of the five systems have already been decided upon – Capital Health has chosen Epic as a regional solution, while Calgary Health Region has opted for EMIS. According to the POSP office, however, these regional solutions must still meet all requirements in the POSP RFP to be considered compliant and eligible for funding.

Moreover, physicians working outside of a health region facility will not be required to use the regional vendor. Community physicians will have the opportunity to choose from the three successful vendors as well as the regional vendor.

POSP is currently evaluating applications for the remaining three certifications. A short list of six vendors will be determined by July 31. In September, these six vendor solutions will undergo additional testing to determine the three finalists.

The decision to reduce the number of funded solutions in Alberta was made during recent tri-lateral negotiations between Alberta Health and Wellness, the Alberta Medical Association and the POSP.

The aim is to develop enhanced abilities in the clinical management systems offered to Alberta physicians. Vendors who wished to compete in the latest round of accreditation were required to submit a proposal by May 12.

Some of the enhanced features that are in the latest request for proposal include:

• Improved system reliability and service levels.

• Improved support for data conversion from one physician office system to another.

• Improved validity, accuracy and integrity of information.

• Improved sharing between a physician’s electronic medical record and provincial and regional systems.

• Standardized terminology.

• Alignment with emerging pan-Canadian standards.

• Data-centre based solutions.

• Best practice clinical processes and care pathways

POSP expects new products should be available for physicians starting in November 2008.

Physicians who now receive POSP funding, but use a product that has been dropped from the VCUR product list, will have additional time to select and install a new system. Provided they continue to meet their current POSP outcomes, they will receive up to 48 months of funding before they need to switch to one of the newly certified EMR solutions.

A plan is under way to issue a Data Migration Services RFQ to make sure data migration experts are available to accurately and securely transfer data from one EMR system to another in the new electronic environment.

The Physician Office System Program (POSP) said in a release that it has worked diligently with physicians, clinic managers, government officials, privacy experts, health regions and other key stakeholders to develop the new physician office system requirements. The selection of the successful vendors will decided by a set of multi-stakeholder evaluation panels, with representatives from Alberta Health and Wellness, the Alberta Medical Association and other subject matter experts, supported by POSP.

The panel participants who will evaluate the products include:

• 10 physicians representing the AMA (a mix of GPs, Specialists and practice types/locations);

• three (3) clinic managers;

• three (3) technical, privacy and security representatives from AH&W;

• two (2) standards representatives from AHW;

• two (2) subject matter experts; and

• ten (10) additional physicians, nominated by the AMA who will participate during the usability assessment phase, to provide additional perspectives.

The names of the multi-stakeholder evaluation panel members will not be published.