Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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OntarioMD Aims to Assist in the Adoption of AI and Enhance EMR Improvements in Healthcare IT Today

In an insightful conversation with Healthcare IT Today, Rob Fox, the Chief Executive Officer of OntarioMD, shared the organization’s pivotal role in advancing healthcare in Ontario.

OntarioMD is embarking on two ambitious initiatives. One is aimed at helping Electronic Medical Record (EMR) users in Ontario drive down costs and have a bigger voice with vendors. The other is aimed at determining the best path forward for harnessing AI to enhance patient care and optimize physician practices.

Supporting Physicians and Hospitals

The primary focus of OntarioMD is to add value to the healthcare system, supporting physicians and hospitals across the province. This commitment is not just about adopting the latest cutting-edge technology, but ensuring whatever technology is implemented, benefits the healthcare ecosystem.

In the past, OntarioMD has been responsible for Certifying EMRs. Having a certified EMR qualified physician practices for government incentive dollars to digitize medical records (similar to the meaningful use program in the US, just on a smaller scale). The organization has evolved and now is a champion for interoperability, data standards, analytics, eForms, and other technologies.

Now the organization wants to tackle Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Harnessing AI for Healthcare

Fox underlined the importance of leveraging AI to reduce administrative burdens on physicians and combat burnout. He sees part of the challenge as discerning the actual value AI can bring to the healthcare sector. With hundreds of AI solutions available to physicians, and more arriving every day, Fox believes the industry needs rigorous, research-based evaluations to ascertain the real clinical and operational improvements that these technologies can deliver.

“There’s a lot of rhetoric about the value proposition that AI provides,” said Fox. “It is common to see statements like – It saves X amount of hours per day in charting – or it smooths out a clinical process. The problem is we just hear this an anecdote or based on an ideal situation.”

To address this, Fox and the team at OntarioMD have proposed a grant to the Ministry of Health (through Ontario Health) to diligently evaluate AI tools to uncover their actual potential for improving clinical workflows and overall healthcare system enhancement. Fox and his team are determined to cut through the hype surrounding AI and ensure its applications are grounded in evidence.

The initial spotlight for the assessment is on AI scribes (or ambient clinical voice) which hold the promise of facilitating more meaningful patient-physician interactions. This technology holds immense promise in addressing one of the major complaints of physicians – the time-consuming and exhausting task of data entry.

Collaborating with EMR Vendors

In a groundbreaking move, OntarioMD is considering reimagining the way EMR systems paid for. Fox is considering a centralized approach in which OntarioMD or its partners would negotiate contracts with EMR vendors on behalf of all physicians in the province. This approach would also have the added benefit of empowers physicians with a stronger voice when it comes to EMR enhancements.

“The problem that I want to solve around EMRs is the frustration that the physicians have on quality, on price, on random price increases, on restrictions on migration,” stated Fox. “We want to work with EMR vendors to look at new ways of collaborating.”

Fox believes a more centralized approach would be a win for all stakeholders. Physicians would have more influence. Vendors would not be inundated with one-off product requests. The province would optimize technology investments.

Other Innovations

Beyond AI and EMRs, Fox envisions a future of collaborative healthcare, where all stakeholders come together to solve systemic issues. He is passionate about strengthening the bonds between various organizations, including hospitals, physicians, and government bodies, to create comprehensive and creative solutions that will bring forth a more efficient and effective healthcare system.

Watch the interview with Rob Fox to learn:

  • How needed EMR enhancements can sometimes be lost in a sea of noise
  • Why Fox is enthusiastic about working with Ontario Health Teams (OHTs)
  • Where positive deviance fits into the OntarioMD strategy

Learn more about Ontario MD at https://www.ontariomd.ca/

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Leah Sirama
Leah Sirama
Leah Sirama, a lifelong enthusiast of Artificial Intelligence, has been exploring technology and the digital realm since childhood. Known for his creative thinking, he's dedicated to improving AI experiences for all, making him a respected figure in the field. His passion, curiosity, and creativity drive advancements in the AI world.


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