Huge growth in Canadian doctors use of information technology, National Physician Survey reveals

December 2, 2014

(Ottawa – Dec. 2, 2014) – More Canadian physicians than ever are embracing information technology. New data from the 2014 National Physician Survey (NPS) shows significant increases in the use of information technology since previous surveys in 2007 and 2010.

Seventy-five per cent of physicians report using electronic records to enter or retrieve clinical patient notes on a laptop or desktop. The number has tripled from 26% in 2007.

"A huge growth in the use of information technology is taking place across Canada," said Dr. Cecil Rorabeck, President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. "Doctors are not only using information technology more, but finding it enhances their ability to provide high-quality patient care."

Sixty-five percent of physicians reported seeing better or much better quality of care since the implementation of electronic records, a rise of nine percentage points from last year. Physicians in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario were most likely to report using electronic records at close to 81% in each according to the NPS findings. Cancer specialists had very high usage with radiation oncologists 96%, of medical oncologists 97% and for family physicians 77%.

"It’s great to see more family physicians moving to electronic record systems and electronic tools," says Dr. Garey Mazowita, College of Family Physicians of Canada President. "The benefits include faster access to test results and reviews of medication lists and interactions, and that means more timely health care for our patients. Going forward it will be important to enhance issues related to technical support, system compatibility and privacy requirements to ensure maximum efficiency of the technology."

Most frequent benefits that were quoted include identifying lab results, ability to access a patient’s chart remotely, being alerted to critical test results or to potential medication warnings.

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