Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Web Services Seek to Put Health Records Click Away for Patients, Care Providers: Services Seek to Put E-Health Records a Click Away

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Web Services Seek to Put Health Records Click Away for Patients, Care Providers: Services Seek to Put E-Health Records a Click Away

Article excerpt

TORONTO - Numerous e-health initiatives are working toward putting access to medical records and doctors at the digital fingertips of Canadians. But one of the more recent additions already comes with a track record south of the border.

RelayHealth has been in use in the United States for more than a decade where 17 million patients and 32,000 doctors use the web-based service.

Since it was launched in the late fall by McKesson Canada, RelayHealth is in the process of working with two pilot sites to implement its service, which is aimed at allowing patients and health-care providers to exchange information. The ability to share test results, book appointments, make electronic referrals along with prescription renewal and refill requests are among its touted features.

RelayHealth product marketing manager David Mosher said one of the aims is to provide a consistent view to all health-care providers for a particular patient.

"Patients are frustrated that they'll go to see a provider and they'll have to repeat all their information, or they won't have it all, or even sometimes tests are repeated because the information is not there," he said.

"We're providing a way that everyone can get the same view of the patient. As long as somebody has an Internet browser and Internet connectivity they can access the patient record and they can update it as well."

Telus Health Solutions is spearheading Telus health space which is currently undergoing testing. The Microsoft-powered service will allow patients and authorized care providers to access and share health information online.

The Mihealth app, developed to work on iPhones, BlackBerrys, Google Android and Microsoft phones, lets patients carry a digital version of their health record and communicate digitally with their doctor.

Both have been certified by Canada Health Infoway, an independent non-profit funded by the federal government.

Canada Health Infoway president and CEO Richard Alvarez said they've conducted focus groups and looked internationally at some of the functions and needs of patients. Among the consistent requests are e-consultations, e-scheduling, refilling prescriptions online and lab test results, he noted.

"Clearly, what we're seeing now is a variety of applications -- and, in some cases, actual platforms -- that allow these applications to work on starting to come up."

Alvarez said they are funding a variety of pilot studies that will be doing e-scheduling and e-consultations.

"We're convinced that's where the puck is going and we would like to certainly see this functionality. These abilities start to come about and then start to flourish because, again, we sense there's a real need for this," he said.

Despite the advancements, Alvarez said there are a number of key issues that need to be addressed, including the security of providing information over the web and who would be footing the bill.

In the case of RelayHealth, Mosher said the U.S. Department of Defense is a large customer of the service and one with very strict privacy requirements. …

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