Ontario patients should have access to electronic medical records
TORONTO -- Health Minister Eric Hoskins says he'll act on a recommendation to give patients access to their electronic medical records as the province updates the mandate of eHealth Ontario.
The Liberal government's privatization czar, Ed Clark, recommended eHealth's role be refocused more on service delivery, and said patients should be able to interact with their own personal health information.
"We must bring patients into the system and give them access to their own information, and in doing so we must continue to focus on security and privacy of patient health records," he said. "There's no reason why you couldn't build an app to connect into that (eHealth system of electronic medical records)."
The challenge is to digitally link 29,000 doctors, 150,000 nurses, thousands of other health care providers, 156 hospital corporations operating 238 hospitals, 36 public health units, 76 community health centres, more than 4,000 pharmacies, 23 community laboratories and nearly 1,000 independent health clinics.
"All are creating important health information about Ontario's 14 million patients and health care service users, and all need information to provide the best care possible for patients," said Clark.
"eHealth Ontario's work, while foundational in nature, reflects only a portion of the activities taking place across Ontario's health care sector to digitalize health care."
Clark, a former TD Bank CEO, said eHealth's true value is "significantly higher" than the $5.7 billion estimated by Canada Health Infoway, which he noted is greater than the cost of building the agency. He doesn't think eHealth or any of the agency's assets should be sold to the private sector.
"eHealth, particularly in the last two years, has made good progress and has built core IT infrastructure," he said. "No one took (privatization) seriously. It was an invention of the media to be honest."
Hoskins called Clark's recommendations consistent with his focus on a "patients-first" system, and said the valuation of eHealth gives the government "greater clarity how to best leverage and manage" the assets going forward.
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