May 12th, 2009

Canada’s First ePrescribing Program Launches in Ontario

eHealth Ontario project lays the foundation for a province-wide program

ePrescribing is the process of generating, authorizing and transmitting prescriptions from doctors and other prescribers to pharmacists and other dispensers. It eliminates hand-written prescriptions by physicians and facilitates the electronic delivery of prescriptions to pharmacies.

Two sites have been selected for the ePrescribing Demonstration Project:  The Group Health Centre in Sault Ste. Marie and Georgian Bay Family Health Team in Collingwood.

Through the two sites, eHealth Ontario will examine workflow, change management requirements, regulation guidelines and the impact on physicians, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and patients.  The project will help inform future implementation of a province-wide ePrescribing system.

This new tool is a key component of eHealth Ontario’s Medication Management strategy and is expected to dramatically improve patient safety and quality of care by reducing prescription errors.

For further information please contact:

Heather Brown
Communications Advisor
eHealth Ontario
heather.brown@ehealthontario.on.ca

Steve Erwin
Minister’s Office
(416) 326-3986
steven.erwin@ontario.ca


Backgrounder

ePrescribing Demonstration Project

ePrescribing – the process of electronically generating, authorizing (signing) and transmitting prescriptions from doctors and other prescribers to pharmacists and other dispensers – is recognized as an important tool for improved patient safety and quality of care. Electronic prescribing has the potential to reduce the chance of errors ensuring better care for patients requiring prescriptions.

It is estimated that every year, almost 400,000 Ontarians suffer a preventable reaction to medication. ePrescribing will eliminate hand-written paper prescriptions and will facilitate the electronic delivery of prescriptions to pharmacies.

ePrescribing is an integral part of eHealth Ontario’s Medication Management strategy. It supports safety and quality objectives through the elimination of paper prescriptions and improved access to prescription and dispensing information. ePrescribing will also support reductions in adverse drug events and unnecessary hospitalization.

To better understand the impact of electronic prescribing on physicians, pharmacists and patients an ePrescribing Demonstration Project has been launched. The ePrescribing Demonstration Project will:

  • Provide pharmacists with access to Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) to view pending prescriptions and a subset of clinically-relevant information; and,
  • Validate key electronic prescribing outcomes in two local settings to develop tools and templates that will be used to inform the roll out of provincial ePrescribing, including workflow, change management requirements and regulatory considerations.

Two family physician practices that are advanced in the use of the electronic medical record (EMR) were selected (through a proposal review process) for the ePrescribing Demonstration Project. The locations are: Group Health Centre in Sault Ste. Marie and Georgian Bay Family Health Team in Collingwood. Each site will use a solution that is unique to their respective practices and geographic areas. The two project sites will study the outcomes of each solution that will provide valuable lessons for the adoption of the provincial ePrescribing solution.

Participants

16 general practitioners, 5 specialists and 7 nurse practitioners from Group Health Centre are participating. 24 general practitioners and 4 nurse practitioners from Georgian Bay Family Health Team are participating.

22 pharmacies in Sault Ste. Marie and 17 pharmacies in the area of Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, The Blue Mountains, and Clearview (including Stayner, Nottawa, Duntroon and Creemore) are participating.

Physicians and other prescribers in each site will work directly with patients interested in participating, to explain how the new process will impact them. Patient agreement to participate will be handled as part of the normal agreement process that will be defined by each site.

Regulatory Colleges

The College of Nurses of Ontario, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and the Ontario College of Pharmacists have been consulted regarding regulatory issues, such as secure prescription authentication and patient choice. The Colleges have issued a joint letter of support for the project and will be kept informed about the outcomes.

eHealth Ontario

Working in partnership with the government of Ontario, eHealth Ontario published the first eHealth Strategy for Ontario in March 2009. The strategy is focused on providing a comprehensive, patientfocused, secure, and private electronic system that will change the way Ontarians receive care in the province. eHealth will bring about innovation and drive the transformation of Ontario’s health care system, building toward an electronic health record for all Ontarians by 2015 eHealth Ontario is a new organization that plays the leading role in harnessing technology and innovation to improve patient care, safety, and access in support of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s health strategy. eHealth Ontario will provide a single, harmonized, coherent province-wide eHealth Strategy and align it through a single point of accountability. Its work will enable and fulfill the government’s strategic health care priorities.