Patients Need Access to their Health Information

By Steven Reynolds

I’ve been a practising physician for 10 years and, as a clinician, I’ve always understood the importance of giving patients access to their health information. A recent experience helped me see things from the patient’s point of view, making me even more convinced that we have to break down the barriers that block access.

I grew up in Toronto and I live in Vancouver. My parents still live in Toronto, so the physical distance means I can’t go with them to their medical appointments. When my mother recently sought medical help for her chronic back pain, she wanted my opinion about the diagnosis and proposed treatment plan. She’s a registered user of Sunnybrook’s MyChart patient portal, so she gave me temporary access to view her health information that’s available through the portal. I was able to read the MRI report and the neurosurgeon’s notes as well as the proposed treatment plan. This information helped me understand my mother’s condition and her care needs, and I was able to reassure her that she was in good hands.

This was a great experience for me and my parents. It gave us all peace of mind. But it raised bigger questions. Why isn’t this available everywhere in Canada? Why do we make patients jump through hoops to access their health information? It’s their information. They own it. It doesn’t belong to their doctor, their clinic or their hospital.

The health system needs to change its approach regarding patient access to their health information, and it needs to change fast so we can give people the best care possible. That’s why I support the ACCESS 2022 movement. We need to work together to break down the barriers that are blocking this access. I truly believe it will transform health care in Canada.

Learn more about ACCESS 2022 and join the movement.

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About the author
Steven Reynolds

Steven Reynolds

Dr. Steven Reynolds is the site medical director, a clinician-scientist and a practising critical care physician at the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, British Columbia.