Report: Canadian ambulatory care clinics reap $200M in benefits from EHRs

Canadian doctors in ambulatory care settings are reaping $200 million in annual value related to their electronic health record use, according to a new report released by Canada Health Infoway.

Researchers studied emerging benefits of EHR use in ambulatory care in Canada by reviewing multiple data sources throughout the country, including research articles, surveys, evaluation reports and key interviews. They found that EHR adoption was still low, with 33 percent of the clinics still using only paper and 51 percent of clinics using a mix of paper and EHRs; only 16 percent were nearly paperless. However, 15 percent had adopted EHRs in the past year and 31 percent expect to in the next two to three years.

Moreover, the ambulatory care clinics using EHRs reported that use of the system was improving patient care and clinic efficiencies, such as reduced adverse drug event related emergency department visits leading to hospitalizations, reduced wait times for treatment, and less time on chart management. For example, 49 percent of clinics reduced duplicative lab tests, 49 percent increased continuity of care and 46 percent spent less time searching for information.

Clinics with external data sources, using five or more advanced EHR functions or that were fully paperless were "significantly" more likely to report benefits of EHRs. The report estimated that the average benefit of EHR use for clinics was $200 million, and the benefits realized by patients was $4 million.

The biggest barriers to benefits included system design and functionality gaps, mixed paper/electronic records systems, multiple logins and misalignments with clinical requirements and workflow.

The study recommended that strategies and technical solutions be provided to increase the investment in EHRs, to improve connectivity and interoperability, to accelerate measurement of EHRs and to prioritize research on their advanced use.

To learn more:
- here's the study