BC medical clinic embraces IT

A recent study found only 20 per cent of Canadiangeneral practitioners using IT in their clinical practice. But thatnumber looks to be on the rise due to a Canadian MedicalAssociation (CMA)-backed software system.

The MacKay Medical Clinic in Creston, B.C. is now using clinicalmanagement software from Cambridge, Ont.-based Practice SolutionsSoftware Inc., a company owned by the CMA.

The clinic is employing software tools for billing, schedulingand electronic medical records(EMR).

One of the distinguishing factors of this software is that itwas developed by a doctor (Dr. James Kavanagh) for doctors.

“It’s designed the way a doctor works,” said Rob Thorpe,president, Practice Solutions Software. “I think that’s whatappeals to many of our clients — it helps them to practicemedicine in the way they’ve been trained.”

When a doctor first sees the program “they get it right away”because of their training, said Thorpe.

“Doctors don’t care for pull-downs and a very busy screen, theylike that it’s very straightforward,” he said.

Dr. Faye MacKay of the MacKay Medical Clinic said that was oneof the reasons they selected the software.

“We chose this software because we felt it would provide us thebest options for improving our effectiveness and efficiency andproviding care to our patients,” she said. “We do a lot of workwith chronic disease management, and this program seemed to havethe best options for what we wanted to do.”

MacKay Medical currently has more than 3,000 patients, accordingto MacKay.

The scheduling and billing components were deployed at theclinic in May, and they just recently started using the EMRsoftware.

The EMR software can be used in the exam room with the patientto call up a patient’s record which then brings up the criticalpatient profile, according to Thorpe.

“The doctor can see in one glance current problems, medications,allergies…any sort of reminder the doctor has for thatpatient.”

He added the reminder aspect of the program is a very importanttool.

“Especially in B.C. where chronic disease management is a highpriority for the Ministry of Health.”

Key features of the EMR also include drug interactioninformation and laboratory results, Thorpe said.

Even though this will improve the overall effectiveness of theirclinic, MacKay isn’t surprised the survey found a low number ofGP’s using IT in their clinical care.

“Up until this point there hasn’t been a systematic approach indevising the EMR in Canada,” said MacKay. “It’s only been in thelast few years that there has started to be some attention fromgovernment and the medical associations to organizing EMRs andgetting some standards in place.”

The president of Canada Health Infoway Richard Alvarez said in arecent interview with InterGovWorld that there has been anawakening to technology in health care.

“There are provincial governments including B.C., Alberta andOntario, who have now put in place pots of money for IT for GP’soffices,” he said. “The associations are quite onside with this,and what we’ve got in Canada now is a cadre of emerging physicianleaders who’ve been using these systems and it’s starting toinfluence the broader base out there of physicians.”

There are currently 150 clinics using the EMR software, withmost of those in Ontario, five in Alberta, and one in B.C., saidThorpe.

MacKay added that until recently it was difficult for doctors toinitiate (IT) in their practices.

“The financial support is only just becoming available in someprovinces, and I think that will entice more doctors,” she said.”Unless there is an obvious benefit in terms of efficiency andpatient care, doctors are not going to show an interest, and whatwe like about this program is it definitely shows the benefits ofefficient care.”

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