Quebec slowly moves to medical e-records
Published Thursday, February 9, 2012 9:17AM EST
MONTREAL - The computerization of Montreal's three million medical records will finally begin this spring.
While the transition to e-records is expected to be complete by 2015, some are concerned about privacy and language issues.
Despite the concerns, having timely access to facts and figures is the key to efficient healthcare, says Benjamin Burko, a physician who is embracing the new e-record scheme.
"Comprehensive information is the best way I have to take care of my patients, so philosophically I think it's an excellent idea," said Burko, a pediatrician in Dollard-des-Ormeaux.
With medical mistakes all too common, the records could help reduce the number of misdiagnoses or incorrect information.
"It would be nice to have when someone comes in and has no clue what they are on," said nurse Laura Garcia-Schlachta.
A pamphlet will soon be sent to every resident in Montreal to tell them about the upcoming changes. But the documentation will only be in French.
"We want to make sure that our population knows, that our users know, that our clients know, that our residents know what is going on," said Kevin Hayes, the director of multidisciplinary services for the CSSS Cavendish.
"We'll be taking our own steps."
With an overwhelmingly anglophone population, the health centre will hold seminars about the changes and send letters to its users. The Quebec government's documentation will also be available in English online as well.
But there is another concern.
Even proponents are conscious of the privacy implications of a system that will put people's most precious information online.
"We have to be concerned about everything, but when you look at it, our motor vehicle records and our banking records, all of that is stored on a server somewhere," said Elias Makos, CTV News' information expert.
"So when it comes to healthcare and medicine, it's probably time that we advance the healthcare system."
Quebec's health department says there are safeguards. Only certain professionals will be authorized to access the information and the system will also lock them out after a short time. Also, everyone who accesses your records will leave an electronic fingerprint behind.
One final hurdle may need to be overcome. Doctors will not be allowed to omit a drug or visit from the record, a frequent request from patients.
"For example, a child who may be on some type of trial of medication for depression or anxiety, things that the public may find socially stigmatizing and a parent may choose not to have that information readily available," Burko said
While Quebecers will be able to opt out of the system, Burko is worried that patients may regret that decision when they need the information.