Tuesday, 9 July 2013

OSCAR - Making its Way into Canada's Maritime Provinces by Jordan Visco, President & COO of Cloud Practice, Inc.

 If a couple of maritime provinces are any indication, OSCAR may be picking up speed in its spread  among community medical practices throughout Canada. While most current users of OSCAR are located in Ontario and BC, an increasing –albeit slowly – number of medical professionals in other regions appear to be adopting the free EMR Open Source Technology, a full featured practice management web application that includes scheduling, billing, prescriptions and more. Two of the more recent medical communities to start using OSCAR are those in the provinces of New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

For relatively small physician communities like those in New Brunswick and Newfoundland, OSCAR definitely makes sense. For years, New Brunswick in particular only had one electronic medical record system (EMR) and apparently many physicians were not all that happy with it. They needed an alternative and with OSCAR, they have one.  Initially developed for Canadian physicians by staff at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, OSCAR is ideal because it’s free to download, install and use in whatever capacity a medical practice wants to as it works best for them; as opposed to paying user and service fees and very likely being locked in to an EMR service that may not work for a particular practice.  Plus, for a small local practice that may have limited resources it always helps to be able to secure reliable technology and services for limited cost whenever possible. That is a huge benefit that OSCAR offers a medical practice.

At Cloud Practice, providers of OscarHost.ca, www.oscarhost.ca we see this move into New Brunswick and Newfoundland as exciting progress for influencing more Canadian healthcare professionals to get on the OSCAR bandwagon. OscarHost.ca is a service provider for physicians who want to run on the OSCAR EMR platform without managing their servers, back up and security.

Physicians in the maritime provinces and elsewhere who are interested in learning more about OSCAR and downloading it for their medical practice, can view the official website at http://oscarmcmaster.org.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

What is an Oscar Service Provider…And Why Do I Need One? By Jordan Visco, President & COO of Cloud Practice Inc

So you’ve finally made the decision to adopt the Oscar electronic medical record (EMR) software system for your practice or clinic and you are on your way. But you may be wondering ‘what is the best course of action to get this system installed, and up and running?’ And you may be thinking, ‘Should I do it myself or with the help of my colleagues and staff?’

The short answer is: you should seriously consider an OSP, or Oscar Service Provider.  An OSP is an independent, private company consisting of tech professionals who will come to your medical practice, install the Oscar EMR software, and provide tech support and maintenance as needed. OSPs do charge varying fees to install and provide tech maintenance support but they cannot sell licenses for Oscar software. There are about 17 OSPs throughout Canada, including oscarhost.ca, with the majority of these located in Eastern Canada.

Most medical practices in Canada do secure the assistance of an OSP which, for most medical practices often makes the most sense. Because the fact is that unless you are an expert in server administration and security, getting Oscar operational once you have it can be challenging. Not to mention that if you are not a ‘techie’ you could be taking serious risks with your practice’s medical data and professional liability. In this kind of situation a ‘DIY’ approach may end up costing your practice more time, money and aggravation if Oscar EMR is not installed properly with the end result being unexpected technical issues.

Just within the past couple of years, the number of Oscar users has grown to over 1,000 physicians across BC, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and PEI. Overall, the largest numbers of users in Canada are in Ontario and BC. The system’s appeal is obvious – it’s a free-to-download Open-Source technology, intended to reduce paper, save time and money, provide easier access to patients’ medical data, and facilitate communication among medical professionals.  It’s pretty much a ‘win-win’ for a medical practice. As long as the managers of that medical practice understand that securing the Oscar technology is one thing; getting it installed properly is another, and is a job best left to OSP specialists.

So better than risk the aggravation of a potentially faulty installation, a medical practice would be better served by identifying an experienced and reputable OSP that will be a valuable partner in getting their Oscar EMR installed, online, and ready for use efficiently – saving a medical practice ‘DIY’ hassles and potential frustration.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

myOSCAR Personal Health Record - Good Practice for Doctors and Patients by Jordan Visco, President & COO of Cloud Practice Inc.

A lot of physicians I interact with tell me that their patients often have copies of their medical records and related documents organized neatly or maybe not so neatly somewhere in their home – like tucked away in a closet or drawer perhaps.  And too often some document from that patient’s medical paper trail gets misplaced or accidentally tossed out; the patient only realizes that when he/she starts frantically searching for the missing information.  Then the physician often gets called for a backup copy.

It can be challenging, and sometimes annoying for patients to maintain paper copies of their own medical records let alone keep track of appointments and medications, especially if they have more than one physician. Consider how a patient’s and a physician’s life can be simplified by being able to access those records in one place, electronically with a smart phone, tablet or laptop; as long as an Internet connection is available. An electronic personal health record (PHR) like myOSCAR makes this possible and is a beneficial alternative for both patients and physicians.

A PHR is an electronic health information storage tool that gives the user complete control over their medical information, pretty much anytime and anywhere. A patient can send to and receive all kinds of timely information from their physician and/or medical office including lab and x-ray results, any side effects from a medication, use of supplements, or test diagnostics.  A patient can also set up their own network filter so that only those people who the user grants access to can see the information that the user wants and needs them to see.

Since myOSCAR was launched several years ago, it has been the mission of my company, Cloud Practice, Inc. to introduce this tool to medical practices and their patients because it makes the benefits of electronic medical records so easily accessible.  Installation of myOSCAR-which integrates with a medical practice’s existing OSCAR electronic medical record (EMR) system- is a service that our team at Oscarhost.ca recently launched and the response so far has been extremely positive from physicians and their patients.  The time to incorporate it into your professional and personal health plan record-keeping is now.  It’s definitely where personal medical information storage is headed as more patients and healthcare professionals try it out and realize how liberating – and efficient- it can be compared to all that paper!