Case Synopsis

Medical or electronic health records (EHR) are electronic databases that capture an individual’s health and care history throughout their life. EHRs are often used as a single repository of patient information that is shared among multiple health care providers (such as hospitals, laboratories, and family physicians). The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care requires all EHR systems in public health units be provincially certified; however, their budget does not provide units with the necessary funding for EHR implementation. The Glenburn Public Health Unit (GPHU) is conducting a review of their recordkeeping practices and has identified a need to streamline their methods for client documentation. There are currently inconsistencies across the unit’s many health teams that result in communication, logistical, and technical issues with respect to document storage and delivery. To address these issues, GPHU must develop an EHR strategy that seeks to improve current recordkeeping practices and, as a result, improves client service delivery.

Case Objectives

1. Define key goals and/or objectives for an EHR strategy.

2. Analyze the benefits and challenges of EHR implementation in regard to partnerships and the use of single or multiple EHR systems.

3. Recommend the most effective EHR strategy in this case using the information provided and course tools and theories.

4. Document the complexities, challenges, and implementation considerations senior leaders should understand about EHR systems.

Case Study Questions

1. What are some benefits associated with EHRs?
a. Which stakeholders benefit the most? Does anyone suffer from EHR use?
b. Are there any risks associated with EHRs for public health units?

2. What are the benefits and challenges associated with implementing a single EHR system versus multiple EHR systems in a public health unit?
a. How can the challenges associated with the use of single and/or multiple EHR systems be overcome?
b. Which stakeholders benefit the most from which approach? Why?
c. Do clients have different perspectives about the benefits and challenges of EHR use? If so, how?

3. Compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages associated with implementing EHRs as part of a partnership versus a lone venture.
a. Which stakeholders benefit the most from which approach? Why?
b. Do the benefits and challenges differ from the perspective of a client? If so, how?

4. What theories or models may be applied to develop an effective EHR strategy?

5. How might EHRs enhance collaboration within a single health unit and across networks of multiple public health units?
a. How may this further benefit overall population health and client care?
b. Are there associated risks? Why or why not?


Electronic health record; electronic medical record; environmental scan; patient documentation; public health; strategy; information technology

Additional Author Information

Shannon L. Sibbald, PhD, Assistant Professor

J. Ross Graham, MSc, MPA, Manager, Strategic & Quality Initiatives, Community Services Department

Daniel J. Lizotte, PhD, Assistant Professor



Recommended Citation

Sibbald, S.L., Graham, J.R. & Lizotte, D.J. (2019). Development of an Electronic Health Record Strategy at the Glenburn Public Health Unit. In: Sibbald, S.L. & McKinley, G. [eds] Western Public Health Casebook 2019. London, ON: Public Health Casebook Publishing.