With all the reported problems from government-sponsored electronic medical records (EMRs) providers, one may wonder if Canada will ever make the switch. Only 10 percent of the market has responded positively to an initiative into which government has poured more than $10 billion over the past 10 years; in fact, many doctors say they will retire before dealing with the complicated implementation, overbearing costs and uncertain reliability of the current crop of EMR vendors.
A solution exists, however, that a small contingent of doctors are very happy with. OSCAR, the open source EMR solution, has faced virtually none of the criticism of underwhelming performance and inflexibility that currently plagues government-sponsored EMR companies. Here is a closer look at the OSCAR platform and how it has been able to exceed expectations, while its competition continues to flounder.
What Is OSCAR?
OSCAR stands for “Open Source Clinical Application Resource,” with the key words “open source.” This is the major difference between OSCAR and other EMR programs; OSCAR is actually programmed by doctors for doctors. The feature set that the program currently runs is a direct response to the feature set that the doctors who are using the program have requested.
OSCAR stands as the only full featured, widely known open source EMR solution in Canada. The project began in 2001, and today services a full selection of front-line medical professionals, including nurse practitioners, physiotheraptists, social workers, midwives and psychologists.
Do Doctors Know How to Code Software?
Many support companies have cropped up to support OSCAR software that supply the technical expertise that doctors need to implement the program. These companies handle the majority of user training, server installation and maintenance as well as support. McMaster University served as a center of learning for doctors looking to learn the solution more in depth.
Who Is Using OSCAR?
As of the end of 2015, 1,000 doctors were using the OSCAR EMR solution in Ontario, with another 800 using it in British Columbia. However, the final number is difficult to estimate, as anyone can download OSCAR and use it for free without reporting their use to any central agency.
Is OSCAR Able to Manage My Health Records?
OSCAR’s total number of users is smaller than traditional EMR vendors, because OSCAR has not been promoted through any commercial push or subsidized by the government. However, this should not deter any interested party in trying the solution. There have been far fewer complaints with OSCAR than with government-sponsored EMR vendors, and the OSCAR community is, by virtue of being open source, its own answer to every problem that it finds.
So far, OSCAR seems to be outperforming almost every other EMR vendor in terms of feature set and responsiveness to concerns. If your office is experiencing inflexibility, high costs or unresponsive customer service from a traditional EMR vendor, it may be time to try something new.
How Does OSCAR Properly Manage Records?
McMaster University is only one of many educational and support facilities that OSCAR relies on to keep a standard. The Oscar Canada Users Society (OCUS) gives the OSCAR software a democratically elected board that responds to all issues of record management. All OCUS activity is the work of volunteers and medical professionals.
OCUS and the OSCAR community maintain a record of licensed OSPs, or “Oscar Support Businesses” that are known to the community to provide upstanding technical assistance.
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