Doctors feel 'ostracized' for shunning e-record system
N.B. Medical Society facing criticism from members about patient record software
The New Brunswick Medical Society is finding itself on the defensive against criticism from its own members who are questioning its handling of a new electronic medical record (EMR) program.
Launched in partnership with the private information technology company Accreon, the software is sold under the business name Velante.
Only 240 of 950 eligible doctors have signed up for Velante, one month ahead of the March 31 deadline to receive government subsidies.
But, according to Health Minister Ted Flemming, only 34 doctors are currently using it.
We feel we've been pushed aside.- Dr. Sarah Charlebois
Many doctors, such as Dr. Sarah Charlebois, an Oromocto family physician, are using other systems.
Charlebois opened her family practice two years ago. Still in debt from medical school, she passed on the $8,000 Velante record system.
And Velante's sales pitch underwhelmed her.
"I felt I was almost better than they were," she said.
Charlebois opted for low-cost, open-source software developed by doctors.
But the medical society won't allow it to interact seamlessly with provincial health databases. Only Velante, the product the society is selling, can do that.
Charlebois says that leaves her and other doctors feeling ostracized by their own organization.
"I think a lot of people are starting to question if they're really representing everybody," she said.
"I feel I'm not being represented, like most people that have an EMR currently would say. We feel we've been pushed aside and even ostracized basically."
Flemming appears to support the dissenting doctors.
"This thing has to get redefined to be patient-focused, as opposed to whether a business venture is or isn't successful," he said.
Flemming recently said there is a possibility the province could take over the system.
Society president Dr. Lynn Hansen said in a statement that Velante is on track and is the best deal the society could get.
Hansen said, like any decision, she knows this one won't please everyone.
Charlebois is predicting the society leadership will be in for a rough ride when doctors gather for the organization's general meeting later this year.