A new online portal that will deliver medical test results to Nova Scotians via smartphones is the kind of innovation that’s long overdue in Canadian health care, says the federal health minister.
Jane Philpott was in Halifax on Thursday for the launch of the MyHealthNS portal, which has been tested for the past three years in a pilot project involving 30 family doctors and 6,000 patients.
Philpott, who worked as a family doctor, said using technology to create a single patient record is part of improving overall primary care.
“This is exactly the kind of innovation that we need to see more of. This is an important step along the way and Nova Scotia is clearly at the cutting edge on this.”
Philpott said when it comes to “people-centred” services and technologies, she sees banks and credit card companies leading the way.
“I look at the kinds of cloud technology that’s being used all over the world,” she said. “Health care is way behind folks, you and I know it and we’ve got to catch up.”
The cost of Nova Scotia’s new system is $13.3 million over the three-year implementation period, with $10 million from the federal government and $3.3 million from the province.
The initial rollout will serve the Halifax, South Shore and West Hants areas with plans to expand the system provincewide beginning early next year – making Nova Scotia the first in Canada to do so.
The MyHealthNS system is being implemented through McKesson Canada’s RelayHealth.
David Mosher, the company’s program director, said the secure portal can be reached through any device that has Internet access. He said patients would see a dashboard divided into sections for health records, messaging doctors, and for downloading data.
“A patient can just click on ‘add’ and put in data themselves, but the important thing is that it also lists where the source came from,” said Mosher. “When a clinician is looking at this information later they can see whether it came from a patient or one of their colleagues.”
Nova Scotia’s Health Department says the system will allow patients to manage their own health information to the point of saving some visits to health clinics in order to get some test results.
Provincial Health Minister Leo Glavine said results of the pilot project indicated that through the course of a year, physicians had 22 per cent more time to see other patients.
Dr. Stewart Cameron, a Halifax physician who took part in the pilot, said using the electronic system is about making practices more efficient.
“We have a lot of things that family doctors waste time on when they would much prefer to be engaged in patient care,” Cameron said. “I see it as making better use of our existing resources.”
Richmond Campbell, a patient of Cameron’s, said he has a condition that means his blood has been tested every month for the past 10 years.
Campbell said using the portal saved him trips to the doctor’s office to get information he can now get in a quicker, more convenient way.
“It simplifies everything greatly and of course it gets me really involved in managing my health,” he said.
© 2016 The Canadian Press