Unlocking the potential of EMR data with OPEN: supporting physicians to use their own patient data to enhance care

Posted on Tuesday, August 18, 2020

OPEN logo Department of Family Medicine, uOttawa


“OPEN is the new world of empowered, efficient and enabled data analyses. Imagine being able to optimize clinical, demographic and practice procedures and policies. It’s a tricorder and a team of QI specialists in one full package!”

Dr. Alykhan Abdulla OPEN member and DFM Academic Family Physician (Kingsway Health Centre); Chair, OMA's Family and General Practice Section

The Ottawa Practice Enhancement Network (OPEN) is a DFM-led quality improvement research study that helps Ottawa-area family doctors make evidence-based decisions to achieve their goals in patient care through customized analyses of electronic medical record (EMR) data. With every patient interaction recorded in their EMR systems, physicians are continuously updating and expanding their own real-time datasets. For many physicians, the time and effort required to organize and interpret this data is overwhelming, particularly when faced with the uncertainties and challenges of a pandemic. The experts at OPEN support physicians to utilize their own patient data to identify priorities and gaps in their practice and select evidence-based approaches to address them.

"We’re harnessing our own data, through specialized analyses by OPEN, to focus initiatives on the patients who need it most."

Dr. Karen Ferguson, OPEN member and DFM Academic Family Physician (West Carleton Family Health Team)

A practice facilitator guides members through implementation of the selected initiatives and regularly reviews progress to ensure the approach is working. Members also have access to customized training and resources, and are supported by experts in quality improvement, clinical care, auditing and more. Some current applications of EMR data by OPEN members include:

  • Identifying patient populations to prioritize during and following the COVID-19 pandemic, or for other practice-specific initiatives;
  • Identifying patients requiring action or intervention;
  • Tracking selected indicators for a specific practice;
  • Identifying solutions to enhance organizational efficiency; and,
  • Creating disease registries, e.g. for diabetes, hypertension, COPD, depression, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, etc.

Membership also connects participants with a collaborative network of peers in family medicine faced with similar challenges, helping practices to join forces and be more resilient to potential disruptions in the future. Several OPEN members also choose to share their de-identified data with the Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network (CPCSSN), ICES and Diabetes Action Canada, thus contributing to research efforts to improve primary care across Ontario and Canada. OPEN is a collaborative, data-driven and evidence-based approach to enhancing patient care that furthers the DFM’s efforts to drive innovation in family medicine in the Ottawa region and beyond. Healthcare providers interested in becoming members of OPEN are encouraged to visit www.raspo-open.com.

“OPEN is helping us to understand which patients are accessing our health portal and how they are using it, allowing them to become active participants in their own care.”

Judy Hill, Executive Director, Petawawa Centennial Family Health Centre

Back to top