One Visit. Multiple Services. Efficient Use of Clinicians’ Time.

Physician practices can choose multiple digital health services to help them care for their patients effectively and efficiently. They’ve seen the ads, they’ve talked to colleagues who already use them, but simply don’t know who to contact or what’s involved to get the process started. OntarioMD has a solution that respects clinicians’ valuable time. In one visit, OntarioMD can describe the benefits of each digital health service, get the onboarding process started and help get you trained on using each service. We call this approach the Digital Health Services Bundle. Much like bundling your cable, Internet and phone services, there’s a current bundle of digital health services available to clinicians that give you access to provincial digital health services that contain information about your patients. This streamlined approach is convenient for clinicians and saves time. Instead of multiple organizations knocking on your door, OntarioMD, because of our experience over the last decade in working with physician practices, is their chosen partner to roll out their digital health services across Ontario. OntarioMD is currently rolling out a bundle of services to clinicians on behalf of eHealth Ontario, Toronto Central LHN, the Northern and Eastern LHINs, University Health Network and the Ontario Telemedicine Network.   

The current bundled services include:  

In order to access provincial digital health services, clinicians require a ONE ID provided by eHealth Ontario. Think of it as your proof of identity, like a passport, to log into digital health services. With ONE ID, clinicians do not need to remember multiple user IDs and passwords. It provides one secure single sign-on to access multiple services like the ConnectingOntario ClinicalViewer.  

ONE Mail, also from eHealth Ontario, is a secure e-mail service specifically created for health care organizations and professionals. You can send encrypted patient information to 390,000 users in Ontario across 800 organizations. Set-up is easy and there’s 24/7 dedicated support and no need for an on-site mail server.  

The ConnectingOntario ClinicalViewer allows you to access and view a patient’s real-time information through secure, web-based portal. You can view your patients’ digital health records that include hospital visits, laboratory results, dispensed medicationss, diagnostic imaging reports and more.  

eConsult, managed by the Ontario eConsult Program, is a tool that provides timely access to specialist advice and often eliminates the need to send patients for an in-person specialist visit. Through a private and secure web portal, you can send a specialist a clinical question about your patient and receive advice quickly and securely. This saves you and your patient time and provides quicker access to care and treatment for your patients.  

To use any digital health services, you need privacy and security training to fulfill your legal obligations and protect your patient data from privacy breaches. OntarioMD has made it easy, and free, for you to get this kind of training. We offer the OntarioMD Privacy and Security Training Module at OntarioMD.ca. You can do the training whenever you have time, from wherever you can access the Internet. Family physicians also earn two Mainpro+ credits for their time. If you’d like some help to complete it, just ask our staff during the Digital Health Services Bundle visit and they can help you. Once you’ve completed the online training module, you can print a certificate of attestation to prove that you are familiar with the best practices to protect personal health information.  

With so many digital health services now available to Ontario clinicians, you may be confused about what’s out there and how the services can help your practice. One email or phone call to OntarioMD will help you make sense of it all and connect you to the tools that are best for your patients and your practice.  

Dr. Therese Hodgson, a family physician in the Ottawa area, has found the bundled approach to digital health services valuable and says of some of the services, “The ConnectingOntario Clinical Viewer provides me access to critical information for my patient in an easy and reliable way. This prevents delays in obtaining the information I need to best care for my patients. The OntarioMD Privacy and Security Training Module is a great resource and has helped me educate my staff in our duties as Health Information Custodians to protect personal health information”. 

Get connected to digital health services efficiently, in one visit. Contact OntarioMD at support@ontariomd.com to talk to one of our staff in your area.

I hate paperwork!

Submitted by Dr. John Crosby 

I am a family physician in Cambridge with 1,400 patients serving 2 nursing homes in an 18-physician family health team with 30,000 patients in total. I have spent 26 years as a physician, with 20 years’ experience as an emergency physician.

A recent survey in the Medical Post listed paperwork as the biggest stressor for physicians. Luckily for me, paperwork is a thing of the past as we have eliminated paper coming from hospitals and specialty clinics and gone digital using Health Report Manager (HRM). It was easy to implement, and both my office manager and I have found that it saves us time to focus on delivering better patient care.

HRM is simple to implement as OntarioMD does all the work in helping to get your practice set up. OntarioMD came into my practice to sign subscription and user agreements and TELUS helped with the set-up of the system. Report types such as imaging, emergency, specialist and other hospital reports automatically downloaded into our EMR system. This eliminated the need to store paper reports. If I were to get an MRI report showing a brain tumour, I can quickly call the patient in and refer them to a specialist.

I can also access lab results through my EMR via the Ontario Laboratories Information System (OLIS). I simply login into my computer and click on lab reports to view any abnormal patient results. If a patient’s potassium level comes back low, I can simply tell my office manager to tell they will need to change their diet or take certain medications.
One of the newer digital health tools I’ve connected to is eConsult. I can send a message and documentation to a specialist anywhere in Ontario without having to send my patient for an in-person visit. This means faster advice, usually within a couple of days, I can use for my patient who doesn’t have to wait months to benefit from a specialist’s advice.
These tasks are all done without paper. Prior to using an EMR, HRM, OLIS and eConsult, receiving, sending and viewing patient health information was tedious and time consuming. In the past, all my reports were mailed or faxed. We would have to physically travel to the hospital and pick up the paper reports daily. Then the paper report was scanned, the patient’s file had to be opened and the report dragged there. Then my office manager would mark it as seen by me.
With HRM, I see a patient’s report as soon as it downloads. With a couple of clicks, the information is posted into the patient’s chart. I no longer need to go to the hospital and wait for mail and faxes. Now I can receive specialist reports the same day of the patient’s visit all thanks to HRM. HRM also sends me eNotifications so I know when my patients were in the hospital and know that I can expect hospital reports to follow.
My practice is more efficient all thanks to my EMR and other digital health tools like HRM. They have benefitted my practice by:

  • Enabling me to find patient information quickly
  • Allowing me to spot trends and abnormalities
  • Providing faster patient follow-ups
  • Accessing specialist advice and getting responses sooner
  • Enabling more time spent on patient care
  • Creating workflow efficiencies
  • Less time spent on administrative and operational tasks

Physicians and other clinicians need digital health tools to practice medicine today. They really need the services of OntarioMD to advise them on how to go digital. You can start with one digital service and OntarioMD will help you integrate it into your workflow. Or, you can start with multiple digital health tools. OntarioMD can connect you to all of them and help you understand how to use them effectively to care for patients and to manage your practice. If you hate paperwork like I do, contact OntarioMD to get HRM, eNotifications, OLIS, eConsult or any other available provincial digital health tools (e.g., ONE® ID, ONE Mail, ConnectingOntario Clinical Viewer and more). Call 1-866-744-8668 or e-mail support@ontariomd.com.

Focus on eConsult: One Physician’s Experience

Contributed by Dr. Anil Maheshwari, Grandview Medical Centre Family Health Team

It’s no secret that wait times for specialists are an issue throughout Ontario. Depending on the area of the province and type of specialist sought, wait times can range from a few weeks to more than a year. Sometimes family physicians will even need to recreate a consult request during the wait for a specialist because it’s been so long since the initial request was made! This is frustrating for both the physician and the patient, and it’s certainly not considered good patient care.

Fortunately, the Provincial eConsult Initiative is helping to shorten specialist wait times by connecting primary care providers and specialists to one of the two eConsult services available. You may be thinking “That’s awesome! But, what exactly is an eConsult?” An eConsult allows a primary care provider to send a secure electronic request for advice to a specialist, including any files needed to support the request. The requesting clinician can select a specific specialist listed in the eConsult database, or simply select one of over 100 specialties and be connected with a specialist.

eConsults have been available in Ontario since 2009. The service offers primary care providers access to more than 500 specialists in over 100 specialties, and an average response time of about two days. Our clinic has been using eConsult since last year and find it to be a huge time-saver. Several of our FHT doctors have used eConsult, and together, have sent over 20 eConsult requests, mostly for advice on dermatological issues (it’s very easy to send a picture) and to specialists such as psychiatrists and gastroenterologists who often have long wait times for face-to-face patient visits.

So, what types of consults make for good eConsults? In my experience, interactions that don’t need to be face-to-face are best suited for an eConsult. For example, primary care providers will often have a quick question for a specialist. While some of these can be handled through phone calls or ‘hallway consults.’ the specialist does not get paid for his or her time and these consults are often not properly documented. eConsults allow the same questions to be sent securely via a web portal, and soon directly through your EMR, and responses can be sent back securely to be attached to the patient’s chart in the primary care provider’s EMR. The family doctor gets a nominal fee for taking the time to create the eConsult, the specialist gets adequately reimbursed for writing out an opinion, and the information is recorded in an electronic format for easy filing.

When I gave a presentation at the OntarioMD EMR: Every Step Conference in Toronto last fall, an attendee asked how the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) feels about eConsults. The organization has summarized its position in an FAQ document, which was recently updated to clarify physician and specialist responsibilities during an eConsult. In summary, the CMPA supports eConsult as a method to improve efficiency, reduce wait times and ensure a clear audit trail of requests and advice given.

Perhaps most importantly, eConsult holds many benefits for patients. Sometimes, while a patient’s family doctor may be confident in their opinion on a medical issue, the patient would like reassurance and a second opinion from a specialist. Often, these patients are satisfied with getting that specialist opinion in writing rather than having to personally visit their office. In this way, eConsults can help put patients at ease, while decreasing the need for face-to-face specialist visits and associated wait times. Access is increased for those patients who absolutely need to be seen in person.

In my experience, eConsults have been a win-win for everyone involved. If you need more advice, ask some of your colleagues – many have probably tried eConsults. Then, if you’d like to give it a try, get in touch with your OntarioMD Practice Advisor or OntarioMD’s eConsult team at eConsult@ontariomd.com to start the process.

I will be presenting at the upcoming EMR: Every Step Conference in London on April 12 on Overcoming wait times for Specialists using e-Consult. Register today at https://www.ontariomd.ca/about-us/events/emr-every-step-conference-london-2018