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Provincial Electronic Medical Record Program now open for Wave 2 of physician enrolments

The President of the New Brunswick Medical Society has announced that fee-for-service doctors will have two new opportunities to enrol for the Provincial Electronic Medical Records program with the benefit of government funding.

“Today I’m pleased to announce that more physicians can join the hundreds of doctors already signed up to implement the Provincial Electronic Medical Record,” said Dr Lynn Hansen, President of the New Brunswick Medical Society. “Thanks to support from the federal and provincial governments, more physicians can sign up until March 31, 2015.”

The Provincial EMR is a computer program designed to help physicians provide care to patients. Originally selected through a competitive procurement process, the EMR captures patient medical histories, tracks prescriptions, helps assistants with scheduling and billing, and includes other services designed to help physicians care for their patients. Digital records are now the common standard for practice in most provinces in Canada.

“The previous deadline for fee-for-service doctors to enrol with government funding was on March 31, 2014, which left some doctors – especially new doctors to the province – without access to this tool,” said Dr Hansen. “In addition, we know that cost was a barrier for many fee-for-service doctors.”

In its recent Fee-for-Service Agreement with the Province, the Medical Society negotiated funding to bring the cost of the EMR program down for individual Fee for Service doctors, similar to agreements in place in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia. This lowers the purchase price and recurring monthly fees for fee-for-service doctors who use the Provincial Program.

“We also know that some members are using EMRs that they purchased on their own before a provincial Program was established,” said Dr Hansen. “We’re pleased that they now will be incented to switch to the Provincial EMR under a new Early Adopters Program.” This program helps subsidise the cost of switching to the Provincial Program, and was modelled after similar initiatives in British Columbia and Alberta. 

Over 350 doctors are currently enrolled to receive the Provincial EMR, and the Medical Society is implementing physician offices rapidly. Since the program started less than a year ago, 90 doctors are now using the program to digitally manage the medical records of tens of thousands of New Brunswickers.

The number of doctors using the Program and patient records included is increasing exponentially. By the end of the year, 125 doctors will be up and running with the Provincial EMR, serving over 100,000 patients. In a few years, the Medical Society predicts that a majority of eligible doctors will use the Provincial Program for thousands of patient interactions daily.

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Founded in 1867, the New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS) is the professional association representing all physicians in New Brunswick. Its twin goals are to represent and serve physicians, and advocate for the health of New Brunswickers.

Media contact: Andrew MacLean, New Brunswick Medical Society: amaclean@nbms.nb.ca

Fast Facts about the Provincial EMR Program

  • The Program was created in August 2012. The Province of New Brunswick and Canada Health Infoway contributed funding to the project and agreed that the Medical Society would deliver it, a model used in nearly every other province in Canada.
  • Under Wave 1 of the enrolment period, 357 doctors signed up to receive the EMR. The deadline for that enrolment period was on March 31, 2014. About 950 doctors were eligible to enrol for the Program.
  • The Program is available in both official languages to physicians and “went live” in November of 2013 after multiple rounds of testing and provincial customisation.
  • The Medical Society negotiated a $1.5 million fund with the Province in its recent negotiated settlement, which was approved by 90% of voting doctors. This funding is similar to that in place in almost every other Canadian province.
  • The Medical Society estimates that the New Brunswick health system will save $6 million simply by reaching the national average on EMR enrolments. The money has been saved in other provinces through reduced duplicate testing, fewer missed appointments, less time spent on administration, and other productivity improvements.
  • The funding and timeline for the Program are limited. There is a maximum number of a hundred new physician enrolments and a final deadline to enrol of March 31, 2015.
  • Fee-for-service doctors must pay $4,000 for the EMR Program on a one-time basis and ongoing monthly fees. A significant investment of time is also required; implementing an EMR in a physician office takes about two months.