THUNDER BAY -- One year ago Regional Cancer Care Northwest adopted a new type of electronic medical record.
Since then, it has become evident how valuable it is to offering top notch cancer throughout Northwestern Ontario.
Dr. Nicole Laferriere, acting chief of oncology, says the new type of record is having a transformative role in allowing all of the region’s cancer care providers to work together more efficiently.
“Our electronic medical record has been key in improving communication between our program in Thunder Bay and all our regional sites where we deliver chemotherapy,” Laferriere said. “We’re all on the same page every day.”
The focus on electronic medical records and their role in patient centred care was one of the emphasized topics of the annual Community Oncology Professional Education workshop, which was held at the Valhalla Inn on Friday.
The conference featured 15 speakers and 18 exhibitors, drawing close to 200 participants from across Northwestern Ontario.
The keynote speaker of the event was Steven Lewis, a renowned health policy expert focused on improving quality of healthcare.
He predicts a shift in how healthcare will be offered within the next decade and says it is imperative providers get ahead of the curve.
“It’s not a revolution yet, it’s a bit of a rebellion that’s starting at the ground level. I think it’s going to become a much bigger phenomenon within the next few years,” Lewis said. “It’s going to be a partnership that way and I think they’re going to be looking for people who will be dealing with them in that way.”
Patients are going to become more assertive and demand input into their treatments and how they receive care.
Having detailed, comprehensive records that are easily available is a way to ensure that care can be delivered more efficiently.
Lewis says providers need to make a full investment into electronic records if it will be done properly. It involves proper resources, training and time allocation for staff.
The biggest step is making it accessible for all the professionals using the records.
“You want to get the complexity out of using the data well,” he said. “You want to have very user friendly ways to get a report and analysis, all that kind of information that can help you do your job better, you want to make it as painless as possible.”
The easiest way to encourage providers to embrace electronic records is to show them the benefits, and how data analysis makes it simpler to treat patients on an individual basis.
Lewis admits it is a bit surprising electronic health records lag behind other applications that collect complex information, such as professional sports.
If more providers embrace the tool, he expects Canada to be among the world leaders.
“We’re still not where we ought to be. We’re not world beaters but we’re better off than we were five years ago. If it accelerates we can be as good as anybody in the world in another five,” Lewis said.
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