By Nancy Walter
The Government of Alberta has recently launched a new portal that makes it possible for Albertans to access some of our health information online. This is a first important step toward making our complete health record a tool for us to use to ensure our care is seamless and effective. MyHealth Records is an online secure portal that gives access to health information that is housed in Alberta Netcare. Netcare is a place where important parts of our health information are stored electronically – sort of like a filing cabinet, only storing electronic copies, not paper.
To this point, Netcare has been used mainly by doctors, pharmacists and laboratories.
Work done by IMAGINE Citizens Collaborating for Health has strongly endorsed the direction of making Albertan’s own health information stored online and accessible to them. A summary of comments after speaking with many Albertans in community conversations included the statement:
“In a people-centred health care system, people have the information they need to be a partner in their care. There is a good balance between concerns for privacy and the need for patients to be able to easily access their health records online. This access will make it easier to share information with other health providers – including when there is a need to obtain care in another jurisdiction or to obtain a second opinion.”
This trend was confirmed by the IMAGINE Citizens Primary Health Care Project. Patients that are more informed experience improved quality of patient-physician interaction and reduced anxiety through easier access to lab results which reduces follow-up visits and phone calls.
Having access to our own health information makes us more informed partners in our care and is a tool for improved communication.
Registering for MyHealth Records is a two-step process. First you must sign up for a MyAlberta Digital ID (if you don’t already have one). You will receive a code via mail, which will enable you to create a MyHealth Records account. This two-step process is to protect privacy. Many people are concerned about privacy.
After you are signed up, you are able to access MyHealth Records from a computer, tablet or smartphone. The initial features of MyHealth Records allow you access to the following:
- Immunizations you have received in Alberta.
- Medication prescriptions that have been filled in community pharmacies dating back 18 months.
- Results of common lab tests, including results of 59 common tests as soon as they are done and dating back 18 months (e.g. blood tests, x-rays).
MyHealth Records also provides a space to keep journals to track your mood, sleep, weight and fitness goals. It allows you to upload and track information from your personal health devices, including blood pressure monitors, blood glucose meters, and fitness trackers that are supported by MyHealth Records and to print out reports to share with your health-care providers.
Members of IMAGINE Citizens have begun to sign up and explore their own health information online. Have you? Feedback related to use have been varied so far. Understandably, any new system will have kinks to work out. Only by actively using the system and providing feedback will MyHealth Records continue to improve user experience and continue to better help us navigate our own journeys in partnership with care providers. We encourage you to sign up and speak up! To work well, this health information system must not just be created for patients. It must be created WITH patients.
If you are experiencing technical difficulty while trying to register or signing on to MyHealth Records call the MyHealth Records Support line at 1-844-401-4016 for help.
About the Author
Nancy is Co-chair of the IMAGINE Citizens Collaborating for Health Communications Working Group and is a registered Medical Laboratory Technologist with a Bachelor of Science degree with distinction in Medical Laboratory Sciences, University of Alberta. She is connected with the Association in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) Certified in Infection Control (CIC), and most recently worked as a Provincial Project Manager with the Surgery Strategic Clinical Network. Nancy’s desire is to improve healthcare by designing the system for Albertans with Albertans using a human centered design approach. Improving the system requires empowering Albertans through engagement and knowledge building.