Richard N


Toronto, ON – Investment in electronic medical records (EMR) has shaped my training as a medical student. During my work at a family medicine clinic, I participated in a program that visited housebound older adults, patients too frail to make the trip to the clinic. Through the use of EMR, a laptop, and wireless internet, however, we were able to bring the clinic to them in their homes, something that would be impossible with paper charts. EMR played a fundamental role in making me a more effective clinician. Besides allowing me to spend more time on my patients’ current concerns and less time leafing through charts, this technology also empowered me to deliver better care. For example, I visited a patient who had recently been discharged from hospital after experiencing an exacerbation of COPD, a chronic lung disease. While reviewing an electronic discharge summary written by her hospital physicians, I identified that her home oxygen machine was set at an incorrect dose, something that would have gone unnoticed had I not visited her at home. Correcting this error avoided potentially grave complications. Seeing how technology can transform the traditional housecall made me completely rethink how I plan to practice medicine. Perhaps most notably, it is part of what made me decide to become a family physician, as I went into medicine hoping to work with underserved groups such as housebound older adults. With these tools, I can build both better relationships with my patients and a practice better-suited to their needs.