Planning OntarioMD Digital Health and Virtual Care Day

by Revin Samuel, Event Manager, OntarioMD

Like a lot of conference planners out there, when the pandemic hit, the scope of my job changed forever. Transitioning to virtual conferences has been an adventure to say the least. Sure, you remove the venue space and the catering and the detailed registration process, but you become more reliant on technology than ever before and you need to understand that technology, and appreciate it for what it can and cannot do.  

OntarioMD Digital Health and Virtual Care Day is scheduled for this coming Thursday, October 1. This is my first venture into a virtual conference, and for a first one, we decided to really go big! It has been a tremendous learning experience for me personally in trying to learn the technology, grasp all the little details that need to go into planning a virtual conference from detailed run sheets to multiple dry runs and dress rehearsals. It is an incredible team effort, which involves different experts owning different elements of the event.

The biggest conference I would plan for an in-person conference would be our EMR: Every Step Conference, which I have been doing since 2012. We’ve almost had up to a 1000 people attend that conference at it’s peak and so the vision for a virtual conference…take that type of format, make it virtual, add in the fact that nobody has to travel, and your audience scope is going to seriously expand!

We have 2300+ registered participants – our largest number to date for an OntarioMD conference! Our team has put a lot of effort and planning into this, to provide an event that helps the digital health community and clinicians get inspired, motivated, and learning more about digital health and virtual care tools.

Do not forget the virtual tradeshow. This is another pilot initiative for me, and I have already got ideas in my head about how to improve upon it in the future. The details and logistics going in to setting up customized booths for each vendor can get pretty complex and thanks to our internal resources at OntarioMD, we are hopefully able to pull it off.

Attendees can expect the same quality educational experience as our award-winning in-person EMR: Every Step Conferences have offered over the years. The event will feature keynote addresses, from Dr. Jane Philpott, and Matt Anderson, President of Ontario Health. We will also offer three streams of concurrent live sessions, with five sessions in each stream. The afternoon will include 20 EMR virtual workshops with OntarioMD Peer Leaders, where we will leverage 40 of our internal staff to manage each of the 20 virtual rooms. These workshops provide an opportunity for EMR experts to help their colleagues enhance their use of the EMR and other virtual care tools.

Each live stream we run is considered an event and runs live for up to 3.5 hours and we are running five live events. This involves a moderator, a lead producer, another producer and two people to manage questions and the live chat plus a lot of time management skills to make sure each session starts, ends on time and the stream goes according to plan. It takes a team to do this and everyone is a backup for someone else, you need contingencies!

With that in mind, it makes your agenda a lot tighter, but you are truly getting quality over quantity. This year’s conference features 10 educational sessions with some tremendous speakers. View the agenda here

You can find out more about the conference and register for free by visiting where the conference will be hosted. This site has been developed with tremendous precision and effort in-house and contains the agenda, support options, all of the live streams and a virtual tradeshow.

While a virtual conference of this size and magnitude might normally be outsourced to a third-party platform, our tech-savvy OntarioMD team elected to come together and pull this off using internal resources and knowledge. This will involve the support of the majority of our organization (over 60 staff members) and has required over 35 dry runs and dress rehearsals to ensure the technology works and plan contingencies for things that could go wrong.

With any pilot initiative comes risks and challenges. We don’t anticipate that it will all be smooth sailing, and there will be many lessons learned. But we do hope this is a great step forward for OntarioMD and that everyone who attends learns something new.

Register for free at and we’ll see you this Thursday, October 1! 

Are we using EMRs to their fullest potential?

Written by Dr. Darren Larsen, Chief Medical Officer, OntarioMD

So we use our EMRs every day for every aspect of care. We bought them, we trained on them, we became moderately proficient, but then what? As experienced EMR users and skilled clinicians, how far did we go beyond that? Are we using EMRs to their fullest potential? Do we understand all the opportunities to do more with the data we produce? Do we see beyond record keeping? Have we automated workflows wherever possible to make our lives easier?

At OntarioMD, it is our business to know and help you find out as well. Seven years ago, a maturity model for measuring EMR use was created. The EMR Maturity Model (EMM) was tested and compared to other similar models such as the HIMSS EMRAM tool. It was put in the hands of EMR expert users. It was re-written and expanded to be relevant to daily community practice. It was also converted to a self-administered online tool, now known as the EMR Progress Assessment (EPA). The EPA was Ontario born, but now is used by other provinces as well to measure effective use of their same EMR systems.

Despite the clinical validity of the tool after years of use and its practical nature, the model itself had never been scientifically tested. We thought it should be subject to the same academic standards as other measurements. So, we asked such questions as: what does the tool actually measure? How well does it measure it?

We engaged in a systematic process of validating the EMM via statistical tests of validity and reliability on the data collected by the EPA tool. This study was recently published in the International Journal of Medical Informatics. Here’s what we learned:

  1. We measure one major thing well – EMR maturity! This means that, when you take the EMR Progress Assessment, you can be confident that your results are a sign of whether or not there is more of your EMR you could use. It can point you to areas you might want to expand or improve on. It can prompt thoughts about quality and efficiency.
  2. Measures are consistent across the list on how we measure maturity.  They line up so that a level 3 is the same level 3 over time and across clinicians.
  3. Maturity is not an indicator of performance. Using an EMR for good proficiency in care gets us to the maturity level of just over level 2. We can be great clinicians, but never move higher than that level.  Beyond level 2 is more about how the practice’s EMR is used within the larger health system. It involves system integration. It revolves around data. A fully integrated system and standardized, high quality data are super helpful when you’re trying to do the most with your practice in designing care for populations.

If you are a clinician who wants to know more about your EMR use, as well as wants to carry your practice further into automation, integration and use of data, then an EPA is a great place to start. You can take the complete survey in about 20 minutes. You will not only learn where you are in terms of EMR proficiency, but also be able to compare your level according to the EMM with where you want to be. And then you can drive out a plan of attack. And there is help. OntarioMD can move your practice ahead exactly the way you want it to be moved.