Budget 2009 provides Canada Health Infoway with $500 million to support the goal of having 50 per cent of Canadians with an electronic health record by 2010. In addition, this funding will be used to speed up the implementation of electronic medical record systems for physicians and integrated points of service for hospitals, pharmacies, community care facilities and patients. An electronic medical record system allows doctors and other health care providers to chart patient health information using a computer, thereby avoiding duplication of testing and helping to ensure patient safety and effective treatment.
In Ontario, there are approximately 11,000 doctors currently not using an EMR. Will this new federal investment make a difference in Ontario and across the country?
Let's examine the challenges you are faced with when looking at the deployment of an EMR platform.
The first challenge any physician has regarding the deployment of an EMR is support. A Family Practice is a real time endeavour. If your system goes down, then so does your practice. If your practice halts, then the queue in the lobby becomes a mob quite quickly.
Thus it is critical to consider the selection of your real time infrastructure in conjunction with a plan for real time, professional support and an action plan to handle any unforeseen emergencies. Furthermore, your practice doesn't run on banker's hours, so your support team must not either.
The second challenge you are confronted with when considering the choice of an EMR is cost. Given a limited budget, where is the most benefit being derived. Will your budget be consumed solely by software licenses and expensive hardware, or will your budget be directed at providing you and your staff the training and support that will ensure a seamless transition and an enhanced environment for patient care.
The third challenging decision you must make when selecting your EMR is whether or not the ownership of your data is important to you. The medical profession is filled with stories of vendor lock-in and data lock-down. Some doctors have found that when they don't pay their annual support fee, their software locks them out, or they no longer have access to the tools and utilities required to extract their data.
Many doctors feel strongly that the information they manage must remain under their control. In this case, it is critical that the system you select is licensed open, not licensed closed.
How does OSCAR compare, considering these criteria?
A number of commercial support companies compete to deliver OSCAR solutions, training and support. This means that you have a real choice of support contract, you have an extensive range of service options to choose from, and the ability to move from one support organization to another if you are not satisfied.
Since OSCAR runs on inexpensive, commodity hardware and is freely and openly licensed, your budget is mainly directed at the requisite support and training, thus giving you a direct and tangible benefit for each dollar spent.
Finally, OSCAR source code is available and published on the internet. This means implicitly that you can never be locked out of your system. Your data can never be shut down or hidden away. You data can not be held hostage.
OSCAR has become a leading EMR choice in Canada because of how well it compares to the alternatives.