Technology & Pharmaceuticals

Health technology and pharmaceuticals are key components of the health care system and to achieving the highest standard of health care in BC. As such, Doctors of BC has developed policy that advocates for a health system that is both innovative and modern while always seeking to improve quality patient outcomes and respecting physician clinical autonomy. Current Doctors of BC policy in this area is outlined below.

Information Technology

Information technology has become integral to the BC health system in the form of electronic medical records, telemedicine, and research technology. While information technology has brought new innovations to healthcare, it also carries challenges in the form of interoperability, privacy concerns, and added administrative burden. As such, Doctors of BC has developed policy to address the challenges of information technology in healthcare.

Summary of Relevant Policy

  • Leadership, funding, and support is needed to increase interoperability of EMRs so that information can move seamlessly between healthcare providers and healthcare organizations.
  • Improving information management and technology should be guided by principles of supporting quality care, enhancing the role of patients in health care, incorporating user input into design, and simplifying health records through the one-patient-one-record principle.
  • Governance and continued investment is needed to create and sustain these improvements.

Doctors of BC Publications

Policy Papers:

2015: Response to BC Ministry of Health Policy Paper – Information Management and Technology

Policy Statements:

2012: Ensuring Seamless Information Delivery to BC’s Electronic Medical Records – Achieving Interoperability

2017: Health Information Management and Technology Principles

 

Virtual Care

Virtual care is the use of electronic means to reduce or replace face-to-face clinical interaction. It includes telemedicine, e-mail communication, and remote patient monitoring. As communication technology continues to improve, the use of virtual care continues to expand across the health system. However, with this expansion comes concerns around continuity of care and quality of care, as well as information privacy. In light of these concerns, Doctors of BC has developed policy on telemedicine and e-mail communication between physicians and their patients.

Summary of Relevant Policy

  • To realize the benefits of telemedicine, its use should support continuity of care, comprehensive care, coordination of care, and quality of care.
  • Evaluation and governance is needed to ensure telemedicine is meeting key goals and not detracting from the physician-patient relationship.
  • Email communication is a key component of virtual care and should be used only for transmitting information related to the provision or administration of care, and should be done within proper privacy and security protocols.

Doctors of BC Publications

Policy Statements:

Email Communication with Patients

Telemedicine in Primary Care

 

Precision Medicine

Precision medicine refers to the use of an individual’s genomic and epigenetic information, including individual patterns of disease, in order to provide targeted treatment that is tailored to an individual’s genetic profile. This has the potential to lead to better individual treatment, but there are concerns related to privacy, education gaps, and lack of needed infrastructure. In response to the growing importance of precision medicine and related concerns, Doctors of BC has developed policy on precision medicine and direct-to-consumer genetic testing. 

Summary of Relevant Policy

  • To maximize the benefits of precision medicine and incorporate it into clinical care, steps should be taken including developing patient-focused policy and legislation, creating patient and provider education, and evaluation of precision medicine interventions.
  • Expanded use of precision medicine needs to be guided by appropriate informed consent and privacy legislation.
  • Direct-to-consumer genetic testing needs be guided by patient safety and quality of care, and this can be supported by appropriate regulation, quality standards, and education for both healthcare providers and patients.

Doctors of BC Publications

Policy Papers:

Precision Medicine – Understanding Our Genes for Better Health

Policy Statements:

Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing for Health Purposes

 

Pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceuticals play an increasing and significant role in the health system as new innovation leads to expanded and improved treatment for a range of illnesses and disease. Expansion in pharmaceutical innovation and treatment has also increased the influence of pharmaceutical companies in the healthcare landscape and generated ever increasing expenditures on prescription drugs by both private and public insurance plans. As such, Doctors of BC has developed policy to speak to these key issues.

Summary of Relevant Policy

  • The prohibition on direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs is important to maintain and enforce in Canada.
  • Steps to manage prescription drug advertising and influence involves developing guidelines for healthcare providers to manage their relationship with the pharmaceutical industry, enhancing oversight of promotional activities by drug manufacturers, and providing accurate and unbiased prescription drug information for patients.
  • The cost of prescription drug expenditures can be further contained through several actions including involving physicians in policy and decision-making, negotiating directly with pharmaceutical wholesalers, and improving physician education on efficacy and cost of prescription medication.

Doctors of BC Publications

Policy Papers:

A Prescription for Quality – Improving Drug Policy in BC

Policy Statements:

PharmaCare Expenditures

Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Prescription Drugs