North Simcoe Muskoka Advances a Shared

Health Record System for Patients Across the LHIN 

Many other patient-focused digital health initiatives underway

November 13, 2018

Patients will benefit from the shared health record work that’s been done successfully in one sub-region of the North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network (NSM LHIN).

The majority of physicians in North Simcoe Muskoka’s five sub-regions have transitioned from traditional paper records to one Electronic Medical Record. Now, all physicians in South Georgian Bay have also switched to the same system. Working from the same record enables Family Health Teams to link with other point-of-care systems to create a more integrated care team that benefits patients and physicians.


Dr. Harry O’Halloran, South Georgian Bay sub-region clinical lead

The LHIN brought interested health service providers from across North Simcoe Muskoka together to understand how their colleagues in South Georgian Bay overcame challenges with privacy matters, associated expenses, and change management requirements to amalgamate patient health records into one electronic medical record for that sub-region. This collaborative progress will allow them to adopt to other potential digital health opportunities while streamlining patient care.

The shared database houses approximately 190,000 patient files from 54 family physicians, 10 nurse practitioners, 37 allied health partners, 25 pharmacies, the South Georgian Bay Community Health Centre, the Health Link, and other health service providers.

“This system, developed through forward-looking primary care practitioners in the area, means that patients in South Georgian Bay who access after-hours’ care—either at a local clinic or hospital—may not have to re-tell their story,” says Marsha Moland, Director of Digital Health at the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN. “With appropriate patient permissions, you don’t have to be the patient of that particular physician for them to be able to see your history.”

The shared Electronic Medical Record provides access to patient information, including: medication lists, specialist consult notes, and diagnostic tests for emergency room doctors, home care nurses, palliative care personnel at hospice, local midwives, and other local providers.

According to Dr. Harry O’Halloran of the Georgian Bay Family Health Team and the LHIN’s clinical lead for the sub-region, the driving factor behind the integration was that patient information should be available any time, at any site, to any health-care provider to benefit clinical decision-making and outcomes.

An integrated Electronic Medical Record system creates the foundation for connecting to other systems and creating further efficiencies. ePrescribe is an electronic prescribing solution where the Electronic Medical Record connects with local pharmacies. Patient information is automatically populated on a template and sent to a portal where the patient’s pharmacy of choice locates the prescription for filling. This saves time for the patient and the provider, reduces errors, and virtually eliminates the risk of prescription fraud. Since the Georgian Bay Family Health Team piloted electronic prescribing in 2009, all primary care providers have access to ePrescribing through their shared system, and they have transmitted 1.2 million ePrescriptions.  

“In my 12-year career, I have gone from paper charting - where I handwrote the patient progress notes - to electronic charting, to sharing the electronic chart within an interdisciplinary team and having multiple professionals contribute to the record,” says Dr. Rebecca Van Iersel, Vice-President Clinical at the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN. “While it might seem obvious and expected that this kind of information is shared, this is actually an impressive and massive shift.”

Patients in the region are benefitting from the expansion of digital health resources. As of September 2018, 90% of the region’s family physicians and specialists are on an OntarioMD certified Electronic Medical Record system, which is higher than the provincial adoption rate of 81%.



  • The North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN supports clinical providers in adopting digital health practices that will augment access to quality care. Integrating systems with other practitioners around them creates a strong foundation for standardizing clinical care and introducing innovative digital practices.
  • The LHIN is currently working with health service providers to implement Health Partner Gateway for electronically sharing Coordinated Care Plans. This allows patients or clients who have many chronic diseases or are frequently in the hospital, to work with a team to create a customized plan that will allow many of the providers in their circle of care to communicate and help the patient reach their personal goals. 
  • In partnership with the Ontario Telemedicine Network, OntarioMD and the eConsult Centre of Excellence, the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN is engaging providers to participate in the provincial eConsult service. Currently 418 local providers are registered and allowing them to ask their colleagues or a specialist a quick question, thereby getting the expertise needed to make quick decisions for their patients, and avoid a referral and unnecessary travel for the patient. 
  • North Simcoe Muskoka has the highest percentage of clinicians in the province accessing Ontario Laboratory Information System via their Electronic Medical Record (51%). Ontario Laboratory Information System is a system that connects hospitals, community laboratories, public health laboratories and practitioners to facilitate the secure electronic exchange of laboratory test orders and results. Clinicians using a certified Electronic Medical Record can access the latest lab results for their patients (OntarioMD, 2018).
  • 15 North Simcoe Muskoka physicians have on-boarded to the Electronic Medical Record dashboard pilot project. The dashboard provides real-time access to a set of high-value provincial indicators to improve management of physician practices. An example of an indicator is the percentage of eligible patients who have been screened for colorectal cancer. Physicians can see this and other population health indicators at a glance to develop action plans for proactive patient care.
  • 88% of hospitals in the North Simcoe Muskoka region are sending reports from hospitals to primary care via Health Report Manager which allows a patient’s primary care provider to get a diagnostic or hospital report into their Electronic Medical Record. North Simcoe Muskoka has the highest percentage of receiving physicians in the province (51 percent) registered to receive these reports into their Electronic Medical Record.


For more information contact:

Marisa Marzano

Senior Communications and Digital Media Advisor

705-721-8010 ext. 3243