More than 87% of Canadian primary care physicians are using an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) to store patient records as part of their daily practice. While most large organizations and hospitals are or have recently moved to more modern and sophisticated EMRs like Epic, Cerner, and Meditech, most clinics and medical practices are still stuck with old, outdated software.
Since implementing a modern EMR is expensive, many clinics and practices decide to stay with what processes they are already using, despite numerous reports that many traditional form of keeping EMRs contribute physician burnout.
This article examines who are the major Canadian electronic medical record companies and their operating systems.
There are three major software companies that operate more than 95% of primary care EMRs in healthcare: Telus Health, WELL Health, and QHR Technologies.
Essentially, these companies acquire and run a large number of electronic medical records (EMRs) used in primary care. For example:
WELL Health now operates Oscar Pro, Intra Health, Juno, and Aware MD with more than 23,000 physicians.
Telus Health operates the largest number of EMRs including CHR (Input Health), PS Suite, Med Access, Medesync, and Wolf with more than 40,000 physicians.
And QHR Technologies operates Accuro with around 20,000 physicians.
Interestingly, some of these EMRs were developed by McMaster University's Oscar open-source project. Among these EMRs are OSCAR Pro, Juno, Indivicare, and Avaros. Since most of these EMRs operate in the same manner, moving from one to another should be very simple if you are familiar with one. The differences are primarily related to small adjustments to the user interface.
It is important to compare these EMRs based on a few factors:
As of writing this blog post, there are still several major EMRs in Canadian primary care that are desktop applications. With a web-based application, you are able to access your patient chart from any location, so you may complete the documentation process anywhere, any time at your convenience.
You are primarily limited to certain machines in the clinic where the EMR is installed when using a desktop application. The most widely used EMRs in Canadian primary care are PS Suite and Accuro, both of which are desktop-based programs. In contrast, OSCAR pro, Juno, CHR (Input Health), and others are web-based applications and can be accessed anywhere internet access is available.
A great way to extend the functionality of an EMR is to create a platform that enables other technologies to easily integrate with it. With their apps.health store, WELL Health is leading the way in providing an integration layer for other technologies. In the same manner, as the Apple App Store for iPhone, the Apps.health store allows physicians to choose the solutions that they would like to adopt and use to make their EMR more intelligent. A good example is Tali AI, which is a voice assistant that can be used on EMRs to enhance their functionality.
Integrated billing, prescriptions, and other solutions can also be found here.
The level of service you will receive from each of these companies will vary according to which company maintains the EMR and how it is ranked in the company's priority list.
TELUS Health, for example, has developed an internal strategy to gradually move all of its physicians to a CHR (Input Health). As a result, if you use their other EMRs (Med Access, for example), you will not receive the same level of bug fixes and feature enhancements that you would receive from CHR. A further consideration is that QHR is less active in improving and maintaining Accuro than WELL Health and Talus Health. Therefore, if you are interested in getting access to an EMR that constantly improves and integrates with other solutions, we suggest trying one of the EMRs offered by TELUS Health or WELL Health.
In addition to all of the items mentioned above, you can also contact your local health authority for recommendations and certifications of EMRs for physicians. For example, OntarioMD reviews and validates EMRs for physicians on this list. The EMRs of these organizations are reviewed and validated by these organizations so that each practice and physician would not have to go through the process independently.
Please feel free to contact us if you would like to know more about different EMRs in Canadian primary care, their user base, and more.