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This article was published 26/10/2010 (2377 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
THE Manitoba government wants more doctors to ditch paper patient files for secure electronic medical records.
Health Minister Theresa Oswald said Tuesday the province will spend $16 million over the next few years to get doctors working in small community clinics linked into the province's expanding electronic medical records system.
The money will be used to pay up to 70 per cent of implementation costs to help doctors' offices switch over from paper to electronic records and pay operating costs up to a maximum of $20,000 for the first two years.
The incentive is being offered through the $30-million federal Canada Health Infoway, a national program to accelerate the development of electronic health record projects in Canada.
"The ultimate goal is a more connected Manitoba," she said. "We look forward to many doctors coming on board now.
Oswald made the announcement at the annual eHealth Conference for provincial health-care providers.
She said about 26 per cent of doctors in the province have already adopted electronic records. The funding will also help them upgrade their systems.
Oswald said the province would be happy if 70 per cent of the province's roughly 1,300 family or community physicians bought into electronic records.
She said a small number of physicians are not convinced switching over to electronic records is good for their practice; however, she added many graduating doctors expect patient records to be available at the click of a mouse. Records include lab results, X-rays, prescriptions and medications and appoint scheduling.
The goal of electronic records is to reduce duplication -- patients having to undergo unneeded tests or exams when a paper record goes astray -- and to improve physician access to patient records.
Roger Girard of Manitoba eHealth, said a wider use of electronic records will reduce confusion among patients and the system -- for example, when doctors refers patients to a specialist but their paper files don't follow them.
"In order for those dots to be connected they have to be automated," Girard said.
Manitoba eHealth is the government department responsible for implementing electronic records not only for doctors, but for hospitals and labs and pharmacies.
"It has to the kind of access that has to be secure," Oswald said.
Full implementation is expected to take several years.