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Canada’s Online Health Check – Canadian GPs and Computerized Reminders

According to a recent report by the Commonwealth Fund , Canadian Primary Care physicians use less computerized reminders for guideline-based interventions and tests than Primary Care physicians in other many other countries.

The Commonwealth Fund, 2009

Several studies support the benefits using technology in a medical office.  So why are so many Canadian physicians not adopting technology as part of their practice?  
In 2006, the Canada Health Infoway and the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) tried to answer that very question. They surveyed general practitioners in multiple countries, including Canada, and they also discovered that Canadian physicians were lagging behind physicians in other countries in terms of their usage of IT in their practice. (1)
“Survey data indicate that more than 95% of GPs in nine countries have office computers that are used for clinical purposes … but only 40% of physicians use the computers themselves. These percentages are far higher than in Canada, where the number of physicians who report having electronic medical records or who use technology in clinical care is about 20%.” (1)
The CMA/Infoway survey concluded that Canadian physicians would be most motivated to adopt technology as part of their medical practice by their desire to improve quality and efficiency of their practices.  Many other factors were noted such as the need for compensation and proper support. (1)

Therefore, as Canadians, we should not be surprised or discouraged by the recent Commonwealth Fund report.  It appears that there is an interest by physicians and the CMA to advance our nation’s medical IT status. This will take time, motivation on behalf of all players … and oh yes, ongoing funding!  So the next time you review a comparative study regarding the use of technology in clinical practices, look to see if there has been improvement overall in Canada, rather than compare ourselves versus other countries who have been ahead of us for a while already.  At least we have the opportunity to learn from what these countries have already experienced throughout their IT adoption process. 

(1) CMA/Infoway survey.  Adoption of IT by GP/FMs: A 10 country comparison

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Marketing 4 Health Inc.
Medical Marketing and Social Media Consultant


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