EHR use provides Canadian docs billions in benefits

Electronic health records have proven very useful to Canadian physicians in community-based care, helping them to reap more than $1.3 billion in benefits since 2006, according to a new report by PwC.

The report, commissioned by Canada Health Infoway, involved review of over 250 research articles, surveys and other information. The researchers found a number of advantages to EHR use, including:

  • $800 million in administrative efficiencies in workflow as staff time is redeployed
  • $584 million in health system level benefits, such as the reduced number of duplicative tests
  • Improved outcomes and safety through preventive care and disease management, such as a 49 percent increase in pneumococcal vaccination rates with EHR reminders
  • Increased interactions and communications among providers and between providers and patients

The report's authors also found that most physicians have had a positive return on investment due to overhead cost savings and increased revenue.

EHR adoption in Canada by primary care physicians has more than doubled from 23 percent in 2006 to 56 percent in 2012, according to the report.

The researchers were cautious, however, flagging "the need for substantially more research to generate new evidence and further validate and track the realization of the benefits described ... as significant."

Such caution may be warranted, as other study results have been mixed. Some have revealed high adoption and satisfaction rates, while others have found physicians running into trouble with EHR adoption or not experiencing a positive return on their investment.

To learn more:
- here's the PwC summary
- read the announcement