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Empowering patients with personal health management

Improving patient care with Sunnybrook’s MyChart™ personal health record and TELUS health space™

Innovations in consumer health and wellness technologies are starting to take hold in Canada. And that means Canadians have more choices in communicating with health care providers and managing their own health.

 Since 2006, Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre has been empowering patients and their families and care givers through the MyChart™ service—a personal health management and continuity-of-care record system.

“Access to their medical information means health consumers can participate more actively in their care”, says Sarina Cheng, director of Sunnybrook Hospital’s eHealth Strategy and Operations. She adds, “MyChart is focused around today’s health consumer.”

MyChart gives consumers access to their own medical record information, using a one-stop shop approach that:

  • Receives test results directly from the hospital’s electronic patient record (EPR) system;
  • Stores clinic visit notes;
  • Lists medication history;
  • Stores and retrieves health updates entered by consumers like family health details, emergency information, allergies;
  • Transmits communiqués from clinics regarding announcements and changes in clinic schedules and hours of operation;
  • Provides educational and up-to-date information about the treatment of a patients’ condition to help with personal health management; and
  • Enables patients to communicate with clinics directly to request appointments online, update contact and emergency information.

Patients managing diseases like diabetes or cancer can use MyChart to consolidate the wealth of information related to their condition. This includes clinical and personal health monitoring information like test results, symptoms, mood, diet, exercise plan etc. Consumers also have access to self-management tools to monitor and track own health status and share it with a clinician prior to a visit.

“MyChart really helps with the emotional side of dealing with health challenges,” Cheng says. “It empowers patients and their families when they can access, manage and share information electronically in the comfort of their own home. It’s convenient, easy, private and eliminates travelling to pick up hard copies of test results.”

Sunnybrook patients with chronic diseases have found that access to their own medical record information in electronic format has made travelling and vacationing much less stressful. They know they will be able to share complete, current, and accurate information with another physician or hospital, should the need arise. As well, a personal health diary feature lets patients monitor and track their own health while away from home.

MyChart is continually being upgraded to better support patients, their families and caregivers in self-management. Health care consumers will soon be able to request prescription refills through MyChart and use a personal medication diary to keep a listing of current medications, allergies, symptoms and reactions. As well, self-assessment tools are being added to help patients in timing their follow-up with physicians, reducing unnecessary visits and easing the strain on both themselves and the clinics.

Building on the success of MyChart, TELUS Health Solutions is using Sunnybrook’s technology platform to develop the next generation of a personal health record solution with new features and functions. As well, TELUS is building it into TELUS health space™, powered by Microsoft HealthVault™, a consumer health platform that will act as an “eco-system of health information-related applications and services for patients,” says Zak Bhamani, director of Consumer Health at TELUS Health Solutions.

TELUS health space will be a “central place to securely store information coming from various sources” and will allow a number of applications and devices—like blood glucose meters and blood pressure monitors—to interact seamlessly with that data.

With health information available in one integrated platform, consumers will be able to store and manage their information and monitor important health issues, whenever and wherever it suits them.

Information like blood glucose and blood pressure, hospital discharge summaries, vaccination records, lab results, medications, medical history, and fitness-related information will all be saved in one convenient record, and kept private and secure in Health Space.

Bhamani says TELUS health space will also be an excellent resource for healthy consumers to manage their wellness. “With all the tools available in our health platform, patients will be more empowered and more proactive; and the more proactive they are, the healthier they will be.”

The “worried well”—healthy consumers concerned with remaining fit—will find a range of uses for TELUS health space, including diet and exercise programs and virtual personal trainers.

TELUS health space is slated to be available in 2010 to a number of sponsors, including provincial governments, hospitals, Local Health Integration Networks, health authorities, and insurance carriers.

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