Improving patient access to health records

Improving patient access to health records

For patients in South West Ontario who want to access their health records online, the wait is getting shorter.

Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) has received funding to launch a portal which will serve 3.6 million patients from Hamilton, across Southern Ontario and as far as Windsor. It’s the largest regional deployment of a patient-facing access channel in Ontario.

“Make patients’ access to their health record information a reality.”

The portal will integrate data from HHS’ ClinicalConnect system – which aggregates health records from Ontario hospitals, health systems and cancer programs – and deliver it to patients through Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre’s MyChart application, which is partnering with HHS on this deployment.

Patients will have a comprehensive view of their health record information. This includes being able to read their test results, share records with their doctors and caregivers, enter their own health information within a secure personal health record space, access health education materials, and securely communicate with health providers.

“As the solution provider for ClinicalConnect, we have experienced first-hand the benefits and impact that electronic health solutions have on improved patient safety and quality of care,” says Mark Farrow, Vice President & Chief Information Officer at HHS. “Now, we are pleased to partner with Sunnybrook Health Sciences to make patients’ access to their health record information a reality in South West Ontario.”

The portal’s initial deployment will begin with roughly 65,000 patients. The initiative is being funded by Canada Health Infoway, a federally funded organization which invests in projects that connect technology with health care.

Background: Health care in a digital age

By Mark Farrow, chief information officer & VP of Health Information Technology Services

Photo of Mark FarrowIt is hard to remember a time when we didn’t have smart phones, apps for almost everything, and a constant connection to the internet to answer our questions and curiosities. Advancements in information technology relentlessly impact how we conduct our personal and professional lives. And this shapes our expectations about how we plan our affairs, interact with family and also, how we do our jobs.

The overlapping impact of information technology in health care is a very big deal. It’s never been easier to track and record information about our personal health – on a computer, a smart phone, or even your wrist-watch. So it’s not surprising that Hamilton Health Sciences’ patients, families and partners expect to easily share that information with and among the medical professionals at our hospital.

We are working hard to meet this expectation – and we are making progress. We have developed a Digital Health Plan (DHP) that identifies the technological solutions required at HHS to continuously improve the way our patients and clinicians share information with one another.

Our goal is to equip HHS health care providers quickly with your health information, so they can effectively interact with you, the patient, and your family, in a way that supports your recovery and well-being.  We are working on new tools, including a Patient Portal, to enhance your ability to communicate with your healthcare team and to stay informed about your health.

HHS is planning the largest, most comprehensive redevelopment in our organization’s history

We are also implementing technological safeguards to support your well-being and safety by providing electronic tools, such as the Bedside Medication Verification system, to ensure you are getting the right medication care during your hospital stay.

Over the next 20 years, HHS is planning the largest, most comprehensive redevelopment in our organization’s history. This initiative is called Our Healthy Future and you can learn more here. This transformation requires HHS to use digital technology in new ways to connect and collaborate more efficiently with our patients and partners, both within and beyond our hospital walls.

The HHS Digital Health Plan outlines the big steps we need to take – now, next year and over the next five years to make it all possible. It’s a flexible plan that we can add-to and adapt as we make progress, because technology never stands still and neither do we.