Innovators of Electronic Health Record Management

As the Healthcare field in North America grows more sophisticated, medical practitioners are increasingly seeking more efficient record-keeping methods.

Nightingale, a Markham-based company founded in 2002, has a straightforward mission: to simplify the way healthcare is provided and managed, while minimizing the day-to-day challenges of healthcare providers.

“Twenty years ago, physicians would mail cards to OHIP,” says Sam Chebib, CEO of Nightingale, which was ranked number one on the Deloitte Fast 50 in Canada. “As a cloud-based company, we’re charting new waters and want to assist health care providers with the transition from a paper-based system to adopting electronic healthcare records.”

Nightingale’s innovative Electronic Health Record management (EHR) system – which is monitored 24/7 by IT professionals and has multiple layers of security and protection – is being adopted by clients ranging from leading hospitals such as North York General Hospital and Mount Sinai, to smaller community organizations and healthcare practices, such as Six Nations Health Services and The Center for Disability Services. According to Technology for Doctors online, more than 75% of family physicians were using an EHR in 2013.

As part of its onboarding process, the company provides a variety of training options to assist physicians and their office staff with implementation and ongoing education such as online training videos done at one’s own pace, as well as onsite classroom-based courses at the healthcare provider’s office, or one-on-one training, along with follow-up Booster sessions.

One of the unique design elements of Nightingale’s EHR platform is its role-based workflow, which only gives users access to the information that is relevant to their job function, including specific information required by easer user role such as nurses, social workers, dieticians and others, as required.

“We want to make the print-to-digital transition less daunting,” says Chebib, who is also a former Engineer. “To help achieve a seamless adoption, we provide the best training available for all staff members. We recognize that a Physician’s priority should be to focus on Healthcare, and not on IT.”

Physicians can achieve anytime, anywhere accessibility to their records, from scheduling to billing to viewing patient information and drug interactions, using their preferred device. Nightingale is browser and device-agnostic which means that records can be accessed via a secure connection whether in the hospital, a clinic, conducting a home visit or while at home giving the healthcare practitioner greater mobility and efficiency.

The company maintains several partnerships, including MDBriefcase, which offers multimedia, interactive and accredited learning programs, Clear Choice a transcription service and Patient Prompt, a patient communication technology company, through which Nightingale created features such as Nightingale Remind (which automatically calls, sends emails and even sends text messages (if required) to patients to alert them of their next appointment).

In 2012, Nightingale collaborated with the Association of Ontario Health Centres (AOHC) to launch Canada’s largest EMR initiative, in communities which are vulnerable to poor health. While the original goal of Phase I was to integrate 73 Community Health Centres throughout Ontario, the number of centres involved in the initiative has grown to 90 with six francophone Community Health Centres planned for Phase 2.

As one of three funding-approved, web based EMR providers in Ontario, and the only Government-approved provider in Nova Scotia, Chebib maintains that funding has become more readily available in North America (EMR adoption tends to be higher in Europe), and he estimates there is $20,000 to $44, 000 of funding available to physicians in Canada and the U.S. With more accessible funding, he sees the development of EMR adoption gaining prominence in a more mainstream market. “We anticipate there will be a growing recognition among physicians of the value EMR technology brings to medical practices, moving the market toward the phase of mass adoption,” he says.

While anticipating that EMR adoption will continue to gain momentum in the mainstream, Nightingale has created solutions to what Chebib says are the three key adoption obstacles. The first hurdle being an apprehension to technology, which can be overcome with an intuitive design of next generation platform using tools such as tablets. Secondly, IT infrastructure costs can be alleviated by having a web-based solution that uses no local servers. And, thirdly, funding approval and various payment models providing customers with more accessibility to the company’s services.

Chebib also considers the issue of demographics influencing future adoption of the technology. As younger generations of physicians are more open to adopting technology in general, they will naturally recognize how they can run a more effective practice with EMR. “Three or four years from now, most medical and healthcare practitioners will either already be using EMR, or be on the path to getting it,” he says. “You can’t do business without email today, and in the future you won’t practice medicine without EMR software.”