Monday, January 02, 2006

The decision to start an EMR: funding from the government

As part of primary care renewal, the government committed to helping to implement and pay for EMRs for family physicians. The following is a brief overview of how this was done.

In October 2001, the ePhysician Project (ePP) was created by the Ontario government and the Ontario Medical Association to choose IT software for family practices opting for primary care renewal. The two parties agreed that the government would provide a $150 million contribution towards EMRs, to be administered by OntarioMD (a wholly owned subsidiary of the OMA).

OntarioMD provides IT transition support to family physicians, administers the IT subsidy, and operates a website accessible to all Ontario physicians. Broadband access is provided free of charge by the Ontario Smart Systems for Health Agency. The subsidy is $28,600, paid over 3 years ($4,500 initially, $2,500 when 600 patients have been entered, and $600/month for 36 months). Because the $150 million was tied to primary care renewal, only family physicians participating in non-Fee for Service models are eligible.

Software companies had to go through the ePP certification process to be eligible for a subsidy. 13 companies were initially certified (list). The certification documents can be found here. One company's product (GE Centricity) was chosen as an ASP model.

The problems that arose out of this were:
  • not all family physicians are eligible
  • there are too many companies to choose from, this is confusing for individual physicians
  • some software vendors are upset with the tendering process used to choose the ASP
Family Health Network physicians were notified in January 2005 that the subsidy process was in place. We could now start investigating the different certified EMRs.


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