OntarioMD Certification – A Foundation for Digital Health Innovation and Health System Integration

By Aidan Lee 
Director, EMR Certification Program 

As the current pandemic has demonstrated, front-line health care workers go the extra mile to ensure the very best care for their patients, often in very trying circumstances. 

And at any time in a patient’s journey, physicians, nurse practitioners and others who work in busy clinics need to be certain that the digital health tools that assist them in providing first-rate patient care are reliable and secure. 

That’s why OntarioMD’s Certification Program for Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) continues to be relevant for today’s digital health landscape and has become the most comprehensive of its kind in Canada. 

We believe EMRs must live up to the same high standards that clinicians provide to their patients.  And we believe in CHOICE for the 21,000 clinicians we serve and having an open certification where we can bring the best products to the Ontario market. 

OntarioMD’s EMR Certification program plays a unique and important role in providing assurance to clinicians and the national, broader digital health community that EMRs and the tools connected to them meet the standards clinicians need to protect precious patient data. 

OntarioMD is uniquely qualified for this key delivery role because of the insights we have into the needs of everyone involved and our 15+ years of expertise in this domain. We understand how clinicians practice, and what they need their EMR and digital health tools to do to provide real value.  

We understand the national vendor community, and how the EMR Specifications we create impact the work they do.  

And we are in alignment with Ontario’s digital-first strategy to harness the imagination of Ontario’s digital health innovators to make the health care system more convenient for patients. Our work in EMR certification translates the provincial digital health strategy priorities into real progress in the integration of the health care system. We call it the three-legged stool, where vendors, clinicians and system priorities support one another.  

We channel this knowledge and experience as we work to strengthen validation, monitoring and certification requirements for EMR vendors especially as clinician practice needs change, and demand for integration of EMRs with other digital health tools increases. 

OntarioMD’s ability to run a certification program that is responsive to Canada’s transforming health care landscape is important, as patient-centred care evolves, Ontario Health Teams come on board in Ontario and the demand for better population health management through quality EMR data becomes more crucial. 

Other jurisdictions have also been interested in the evolution of EMRs and have approached OntarioMD for its certification expertise as they guide clinicians and vendors in their provinces to keep pace with the changes in digital health adoption during COVID-19 and beyond. In December 2020, the Government of New Brunswick partnered with OntarioMD (OMD) to extend the OMD EMR Certification Program to support the New Brunswick EMR Open Market effective January 1, 2021. Extending the OMD EMR Certification to New Brunswick will accelerate the opening of the EMR market and minimize the work to vendors who already have a certified EMR offering in Ontario.  

Since OntarioMD was established, we’ve earned a reputation for developing and implementing provincial digital health tools – alone, and with partners – that are integrated with EMRs in the way that makes most sense for clinicians. Certified EMRs are an integral part of the development. Clinicians have told us that they prefer to use digital health tools that are integrated with their EMRs instead of having to log into multiple tools and figure out how to pull in patient data into their primary tool – their EMR. 

Today, more than 21,000 physicians and nurse practitioners use an EMR certified by OntarioMD. 

Clinicians can access a growing list of provincial digital health products and services directly through their OntarioMD certified EMRs, including Health Report Manager (HRM®), the Ontario Laboratories Information System (OLIS) and eConsult. Clinicians who use other EMRs that are not certified cannot connect to these important practice tools and must still rely on fax or mail delivery of patient reports. In a digital world, a reliance on paper comes with many challenges that can even have an impact on patient safety. Using digital tools integrated into a clinician’s EMR enables them to have the information readily available to make timely clinical decisions. 

Because the stakes in health care are so high, OntarioMD’s EMR certification process is rigorous and ongoing. To achieve and maintain certification, a vendor must have their EMR offerings validated, and also maintain compliance with EMR specifications. In some cases, vendors may be required to undergo revalidation, conformance assessments or investigations for their certified EMR Offerings. 

Find out more about why OntarioMD’s EMR Certification Program is important for the success of your practice, the health of your patients, and the evolution of Ontario’s health care system by visiting our website. 

To find out more about OntarioMD’s full suite of digital tools for clinicians, visit www.ontariomd.ca, or contact us at support@ontariomd.com. We’re here to help! 

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