Are We Losing the EMR Race?

21 Nov

Are We Losing the EMR Race?

We tend to think that Canada, or at least North America, has the best of everything. After all, why would so many people want to emigrate here if it wasn’t true? We tease our American cousins about being myopic about the world ending at the American border but are we guilty of thinking that life is better in Canada than other countries? This might not be the case.

It came as quite a surprise to me, for example, to discover that we are at the bottom of ten top industrialized countries in adoption of EMR systems.

According to Canadian doctor, Dr. Tara Kiran, “… a new Commonwealth Fund study finds that Canada lags far behind other countries when it comes to using information technology in primary care. In 2009, Canada was dead last among ten other developed countries when it came to the percentage of family doctors using electronic medical records. Three years later, Canada is still dead last among these countries.” (1) I can only hope that we’re doing a little better by 2014!

The Journal of Usability Studies, “Usability of Electronic Medical Records”, reported that a survey of 6000 physicians in seven industrialized countries (Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States) found that “98% of physicians in the Netherlands and 89% in the UK” (2) used EMR systems. The report goes on to cite that “countries with wide-spread use of electronic medical records appear to have lower health care costs and better care.” The writing is on the wall that we need to catch up.

Canadians feel well looked after. We have provincial health care while the US is still arguing whether access to affordable healthcare is a right.   We assume that we’re doing fine but maybe we need to take a more concerted look at what is holding up adoption of EMRs by physicians?

Each province has legislated mandatory EMR adoption in physician’s clinics but reports keep coming back that beyond scheduling and billing, physicians and their staff prefer to stick with their tried-and-true paper or spreadsheet system. They might have an EMR system on their computers but they’re not using it.

Canada Infoway is overseeing our country’s entry into EMR adoption. It’s CEO, Richard Alvarez, quoted in “More Than a Third of Canadian Physicians are Without EMRs”, says that “one of the difficulties of adapting to this new system is that the work can be inefficient if a doctor has to toggle between systems to access information. The key to success will be to bring this information seamlessly into the physician’s workflow.” (3)

There are undoubtedly many reasons why physicians are reluctant to use the EMR systems that are out there. Some come with hefty price tags, others are technologically challenging, and most are too slow, too cumbersome and too full of unnecessary functions to help doctors provide better care to their patients.

Doctors and the Canadian medical establishment are circling this thorny problem but have yet to come up with a viable solution. But maybe it’s that the current software isn’t up to the challenge? Maybe we need something new?

There is a new player in the medical software field who has come up with a radical new solution to physician’s EMR complaints and this is SageTea Software.

SageTea Software has worked for 10 years developing a new way to approach software development and produced, Vision, the newest EMR program for the Ophthalmology market.

Vision is designed by doctors and for doctors.   It provides a simple, easy-to-use user interface that is leagues ahead of the previous generation of EMR software and one that is tailored specifically for that specialty.

SageTea Software plans to roll out more applications in 2015. Each is designed by doctors consulting on their own specialties. This means that the programs are exactly what real doctors and their staff want.

The next “gen” is here. Canadian doctors now have the solution that they have long needed to enable them to catch up in the interconnected EMR world – and one that will ultimately benefit everyone.

SageTea Software has a list of doctors waiting to receive these new EMR programs. If you would like to be added to the list, please contact us now.


  1. Healthy Debate, “Why Aren’t Canadian Doctors Embracing E-Communication”, Tara Kiran, December, 2012.
  2. Journal of Usability Studies, “Usability of Electronic Medical Records”, John B. Smelcer, Hal Miller-Jacobs, Lyle Kantrovich, February 2009.
  3. Diablogue, “More Than a Third of Canadian Physicians Still Without EMRs”, January, 2014

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