Dale Bass – Kamloops This Week
The province’s health minister expects to see an initiative being tested in some communities expand in coming months — one that will give patients more direct access to their own health information.
Terry Lake said the new tool, MyHealthPortal, would provide patients with secure access to lab results, X-rays, scans, their own medical history and some medical appointments.
The Interior Health Authority is the first in B.C. to launch the portal, which only provides health information collected from IHA facilities. It’s being tested at the Shuswap Lake General Hospital in Salmon Arm and is available for all patients over the age of 16.
Lake said the tool helps empower patients and make them feel more like an active participant in their health care.
He said he has discussed the tool with the province’s privacy commissioner. Those talks focused on who owns the medical data.
“Patients feel they should own that information and they don’t,” Lake said. “This gives them access to it.”
IHA board chairman Erwin Malzer said “Increasing patient involvement in their care by having access to their own information is a key goal. Digital health will help patients make decisions, allowing them to ask more informed questions of their health-care providers and move to more of a partnership model.”
Patient Voices Network (PVN) volunteer Diane Edlund said the portal will help put information into the hands of patients.
“This will help patients be more proactive in looking after their health — an important element of patient empowerment, which leads to better health outcomes,” she said. “For example, having access to information from emergency room visits ensures information flows through transitions in care. This can reduce the need for follow-up emergency visits for test results.”
PVN was created in 2009 by the health ministry to allow people to give ideas to health-care providers and administrators. Anyone living in the province can join it.
Ultimately, Lake said, the portal could be used for some interactions between doctors and patients, including some consultations.
He is hopeful a new clinic staffed by a team of various medical professionals will be in place on the North Shore by the fall. The IHA is looking for an appropriate place to base the service, one that is close to transportation and also has adequate parking.
Calling it a primary-care home, Lake said patients would not be assigned to specific doctors. Their care would be provided by team members, who would share the information with each other to ensure continuation of appropriate care.