Last week Alberta’s Auditor General released a report titled “Better Healthcare for Albertans.” While I admit I haven’t managed to read the full report yet – and because of its relevance we are planning on sharing our thoughts on it in the coming weeks – I did find a thought-provoking section in the “At a glance” document (a summary of the full report) that I thought I would share now. On page 6, there is a box on the right side titled “If your bank operated like the Alberta healthcare system…” Some of the points (there are more) include:

  • “To obtain your account balance, you would have to make a written request and wait a couple of weeks for the information to arrive in the mail.”
  • “Online banking would not exist.”
  • “You would have no direct access to your financial data.”
  • “Bank employees would rely heavily on the fax to transmit your financial data.”
  • “To withdraw money from another branch you would be asked to open an account there first. That branch would not know who you are.”

Why do we accept this?

The report does highlight that in an integrated system “Each individual’s health information flows to all of that person’s care providers” My question is why does it have to “flow to all of that person’s care providers?” Can I have it and bring it to them myself? What if I could choose to be the custodian of my information?

There are some “reasons” that are often referenced in arguments against the implementation of digital health tools and Canada Health Infoway does a great job of debunking some of the misconceptions out there with their “Myth of the week campaign. Some of their myths include:

Myth: “Patients don’t want to see their health information and won’t find the information useful.”

Fact: “69% of Canadians who don’t currently have online access to their medical records would like access…”

Myth: “I won’t understand my lab results if I access them online because they are too complicated.”

Fact: “In a study, 76% of patients who first saw their lab results online were confident they understood the results…”

Myth: “Digital health will marginalize populations that may not have online access.”

Fact: “Many Canadians face barriers to access to care and virtual care helps reduce those barriers…”

I am optimistic and excited to see what is coming. There are already some great examples of companies that are doing the right thing and I believe that if we push to have a system that embraces their innovation and positive disruption we will all benefit.

Access to my bank statement vs. access to my health record

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