Innovation Nation: When privacy stands in the way of patient care

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Many Canadians don’t realize they legally own their personal health records.Photo Illustration by Gigi Suhanic/National Post

While nothing is more private for most individuals than their health, many Canadians don’t realize they legally own their personal health records — or how they would obtain them. As we look to evolve our health care system, however, putting this data into patients’ own hands, rather than locking it away in government-run repositories, is essential to improving outcomes and efficiency.

The power of such a patient-centric approach is already being demonstrated by early adopters. Kaiser Permanente, a managed care group in the United States, has found that patients who receive medical results prior to appointments with their doctors are more than three times more likely to feel calm and satisfied than confused or worried. In Nova Scotia, 98 per cent of the 6,000 patients who participated in a pilot for MyHealthNS, a secure online tool for accessing health records, said they wanted to continue getting results online; 85 per cent said it made a positive difference in their health management. Physicians also said patients using MyHealthNS were better informed and more frequently came to them with educated questions to make the most of their appointments.

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