History of OntarioMD EMR Certification


OntarioMD's EMR Certification Program was established in 2001 to promote the adoption of EMRs by community-based physicians. Funding was provided to physicians for adopting EMRs certified by OntarioMD as "Funding Eligible". 

"Funding Eligible" EMRs drove expectations for:

  • Technical and clinical requirements for primary care EMRs as described by specifications
  • EMR vendor agreements between OntarioMD and the EMR vendor
  • Funding agreements between OntarioMD and physicians
  • Client agreements between the EMR vendor and the physician (practice)


Current EMR Certification Program

With more than 80% of primary care physicians in Ontario now using OntarioMD-certified EMRs, the focus is shifting from adoption to maturity of use and integrating EMRs with other provincial digital health assets, which together will contribute to an integrated, comprehensive electronic health record (EHR) for Ontarians.

With this shift, OntarioMD's EMR Certification Program is also evolving its focus towards requirements that drive maturity of use through clinical tools, EHR connectivity, service delivery, privacy and security and the exchange of health information with EMRs.

OntarioMD's renewed EMR Certification Program also aligns with a key objective within the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's Patients First: Digital Health Strategy to realize the full potential of EMRs to support clinical practice or to share key information needed to improve care coordination; this should include improved interoperability and connection to provincial assets, and increased maturity of EMR use.

Two key objectives driving mature use of EMRs include:

  • Improved clinical value of EMRs:
    • Access to new/updated provincial EHR Solutions and Services (e.g.:  Ontario Laboratories Information System (OLIS), Health Report Manager (HRM) and future services such as eConsult, immunizations, medications)
    • Fit-for-purpose EMRs and use of clinical tools such as an EMR Dashboard
    • Use of centrally-managed (hosted) EMRs
    • Innovative solutions by EMR vendors and their partners
  • Improved exchange of EMR Data:
    • Improved data quality
    • Access to, and exchange of, EMR data


Market Opportunity / EMR Landscape

It is important for new vendor entrants to consider that while there are some community-based physicians who have yet to adopt an EMR, EMRs have already been adopted by over 14,000 community-based physicians in Ontario.  Market share information is updated regularly by OntarioMD. As the EMR landscape continues to mature, practices/physicians may:

  • Decide to choose an alternate EMR which more closely aligns to their practice needs, e.g., a 'fit-for-purpose' EMR targeted for their specialty, care group or care delivery model
  • Decide to migrate away from their EMR installed locally within their practice towards a centrally managed (hosted) EMR solution
  • Be required to choose an alternate EMR, e.g., driven by the market exit of an EMR vendor.


EMR Certification Fundamentals

EMRs must be certified by OntarioMD as a requirement for access to provincial EHR solutions and services such OLIS and HRM.

To attain and maintain certification, a vendor must:

  • Be validated and maintain its alignment with applicable EMR Specifications
  • Uphold obligations as set forth in an EMR Vendor Certification Agreement

Various events may trigger (re-)validation, conformance assessments or other investigations.

  • Monthly reporting, semi-annual reviews, incident reporting
  • Concerns raised by physicians, vendors or other stakeholders
  • Updated/new EMR Specifications

For additional information on EMR Certification click: HERE   


EMR Specifications

EMR Specifications define a minimum set of requirements which support the continual evolution of EMRs.

  • Foundational services (e.g., Core Data Set, Hosting Privacy and Security, Data Migration)
  • EHR connectivity and tools (e.g.: Health Report Manager (HRM), Ontario Laboratories Information System (OLIS))
  • Functional requirements (e.g., Primary Care)

Clinical involvement is critical to the development of all EMR Specifications and include a consistent use of messaging and data standards. Historically, primary care certification was one comprehensive specification, but in 2014 was divided into modular specifications to streamline validation, and support certification for other care domains beyond primary care.


EMR Validation

Validation is a five-staged process which evaluates an EMR offerings' alignment to EMR Specifications.

  1. Application for certification, including a set of artifacts that provides details of the EMR offering and its alignment to the applicable EMR Specifications
  2. Assessment of the application and collaboration with the EMR vendor
  3. Demonstrated alignment of the EMR offering to functional requirements
  4. Demonstrated alignment of the EMR offering to EHR connectivity requirements
  5. Demonstrated deployment of the EMR offering in a clinical setting

Additional information regarding the validation process click : HERE