Nova Scotia’s online health tool to shut down entirely in March

Randy Delorey, Nova Scotia Minister of Health and Wellness, responds to a reporter's questions at a press conference during the Conferences of Provincial-Territorial Ministers of Health in Winnipeg, Thursday, June 28, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

A platform that allows patients in Nova Scotia to view routine medical test results and contact their doctor online will be discontinued in March.

In August, the Nova Scotia government announced MyHealthNS would soon be no more, as the company involved in its creation opted not to renew the contract.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia doctor shortage forces ongoing emergency department closures

According to the province, the final day to access the MyHealthNS system for health care providers will be March 27. For patients, access will continue until March 31.

Nova Scotia Health Minister Randy Delorey says despite the digital health service being the “first of its kind,” it took longer than expected for patients and physicians to buy in.

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“I think it’s one of those things [with] technology, it does take some time for people to adopt,” he said.

“You always have early adopters at the front end of technology curves, and then it just takes a little bit of time sometimes for the message to get out to others.”

The reasoning for why the contract wasn’t renewed remains unclear. In a statement to Global News, McKesson Canada said the decision not to renew the contract “was not taken lightly.”

“Discussions took place over eight months to try and find a sustainable path forward for both McKesson Canada and the province,” said McKesson Canada spokesperson Andrew Forgione in a statement.

“McKesson Canada and the government of Nova Scotia have a longstanding and positive relationship.”

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia’s online health portal a loss for doctors in the province' Nova Scotia’s online health portal a loss for doctors in the province
Nova Scotia’s online health portal a loss for doctors in the province – Jul 6, 2017

Delorey said the contract not being renewed was a “business decision” on McKesson Canada’s part.

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He added that through MyHealthNS, government learned Nova Scotians value the use of online tools to access their health information.

“We continue to be committed to technology, and looking and seeing how we can leverage that technology to improve health care delivery,” Delorey said.

“We’re looking at the lessons learned and trying to look at the best path forward.”

Nova Scotia physicians have previously stated the online portal wasn’t user-friendly for patients with more complex medical conditions. Doctors also said the program resulted in a blow to their income and additional unpaid work.

READ MORE: ‘There is a huge need’: Why this Nova Scotia doctor says she can’t leave her patients behind

Patients who use MyHealthNS will be receiving instructions over the next six weeks on how to download their data, as well as reminders about the March 31 deadline.

According to the province, the total cost of the pilot and the program was about $12.2 million, of which about $7.6 million went to McKesson under their contract.

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