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Electronic health records

Sunnybrook patients to access their electronic records

TORONTO – This month, Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Centre will launch a pilot program for an electronic Continuity of Care Record (CCR). The system enables patients to create and manage their own personal health records.

The groundbreaking model is designed to streamline the delivery of  information between healthcare providers and patients, and to educate patients on the management of their own health information.

Sam Marafioti (pictured), Vice President responsible for eHealth at Sunnybrook & Women’s, said, “We believe that the Continuity of Care Record approach will be extremely beneficial to the consumers of healthcare.”

Two of the challenges facing the Canadian healthcare system today include the lack of integrated information exchange among care providers and also with their patients.

Patients continue to be frustrated with our complex health system and the gaps in the continuum of care.

“I continue to express the urgent need for patients to access their own medical information, such as clinic visits, notes, test results and the like,” says Veronica Maidman, a patient in the trial and supporter of our healthcare system. “It is very disconcerting that I do not have access to my health information when I travel or see other physicians. Gaining access will eliminate the need to always ask for copies of tests and reports. I am thrilled that Sunnybrook & Women’s recognizes the need for change and focuses on the patient’s personal needs.”

Increasingly, patients like Veronica Maidman are taking a greater interest in managing their own health and healthcare information, researching and gathering disease specific information, and participating in treatment decisions. This indicates a new type of consumer and a need to meet new expectations.

Sunnybrook & Women’s CCR involves patients from Sunnybrook & Women’s and community physicians’ offices. These patients and providers will have access to personal health information through a password-protected system, which connects to a patient-specific Sunnybrook & Women’s portal.

It offers a series of self-managed services such as appointment scheduling, medication refills, patient diary, test results, email communication, and with the patient’s expressed consent, the ability to share health information with other providers and caregivers from anywhere at anytime. Sunnybrook & Women’s will offer online help and arrange training sessions to assist patients with creating their own or a family member’s health record.

“The patient will always have the greatest interest in their own healthcare and that of their family,” says Sarina Lecce, Director, eHealth Strategies & Operations, Information and Communication Services. “In order for the consumer to be more effectively involved in managing their healthcare, it’s time to put the necessary information in their hands.

The idea of electronic personal health records not only empowers consumers, it also improves clinical workflow by reducing the number of phone calls and forms that are exchanged in the process of referrals and consultations with frequent users, and collecting new patient information.

“As family physicians, we are often called upon to interpret what a patient remembers of their encounter with a specialist,” says Dr. Jennifer Wyman, a family physician affiliated with Sunnybrook & Women’s. “Being linked directly to the information will allow us to gain a more thorough understanding of the patient’s history, and as a result we will function much more efficiently.”

The portal will also enable patients to access updated information regarding educational initiatives such as program workshops and seminars and have the ability to register for these online.

Marafioti adds, “We are beginning to accept that the patient is a key stakeholder in the way we deliver care, and once consumers are empowered, they will change the way healthcare is delivered.”

About Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Centre
Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Centre is transforming healthcare through the dedication of its more than 10,000 staff members who provide compassionate and innovative patient focused care. An internationally recognized leader in women’s health, academic research and education and an affiliation with the University of Toronto distinguishes Sunnybrook & Women’s as one of Canada’s premier health sciences centres.

Sunnybrook & Women’s specializes in caring for newborns, adults and the elderly, treating and preventing cancer, heart problems, neurological and psychiatric conditions, orthopaedic and arthritic conditions and traumatic injuries. Toronto Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre is the comprehensive cancer program at Sunnybrook & Women’s, a Cancer Care Ontario partner and fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.