New online tool connects hospital patients with their health records

A new health portal aims to put patients first by having them access their health records from visits to the hospital.

ConnectMyHealth is an online tool patients can register for so they can view their health records. Patients can view lab reports, blood tests, diagnostic imaging and more.

Guelph General Hospital, Palmerston and District Hospital, Groves Community Memorial Hospital in Fergus and Louise Marshall Hospital in Mount Forest are all part of the program.

The digital tool isn’t available at clinics or through family health care practitioners. And while it isn’t part of the plan right now primary care is supporting the “functionality for the ability of patients to book appointments online,” said Emmi Perkins, director of transformation for the Guelph Wellington Ontario Health Team.

Patients could eventually also receive communication from their primary health care provider about lab results, said Perkins.

“And I mean it’s viewed as an important tool in helping empower patients and having their own health information and ensuring that they’re well informed on the care they’re receiving,” said Katelyn Young, equity and engagement coordinator for the Guelph Wellington OHT.

Since the portal started in September the health team have been visiting participating hospitals to get the information to patients and staff. 

There are posters in hospitals with QR codes patients can scan to bring them to the site. Young was handing out postcards with ConnectMyHealth information on them to people at Guelph General Hospital on Thursday.

Young said she is hoping as many patients register as possible.

“So this is a really great step in helping all patients be able to access their health records without having the requirement of paying for that,” Young said.

It can take time when patients are requesting their information but with this tool “…they’re just able to see their records online and in real time,” she said.

ConnectMyHealth has a support network through phone and email for people who need help with the portal and who may not be tech savvy, said Young.

She and Perkins emphasized the privacy and security of the tool. They said there is a rigorous registration process. Patients have to submit a photo of them holding their health card and it is reviewed by an actual person, Young said. There is also multi-factor authenticator when signing into the website.

The tool was used by the patient, family and caregiver advisory council at Guelph Wellington OHT before it was launched to the public.

Past records will be made available to patients as long as they were in the hospital electronic medical records, said Young. The records that may be more limited are discharge summaries up to 2018, she said.

“We aren’t the first to do this. So other jurisdictions who have provided patients with this type of information have really experienced benefits with respect to the patient’s being empowered to be a member of their own care team,” said Perkins.

The tool helps by “levelling out the power dynamic a little bit and ensuring that patients have the information they need to advocate for themselves to advocate for family members, and to be a partner in their own health care,” said Young.

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