B.C. Industry News
Vancouver Sun – B.C. patients go online in a big way for test results
April 1, 2014
Almost half a million people have signed up for â€˜my eHealth’ to track medical tests, progress
BY PAMELA FAYERMAN, VANCOUVER SUN
Nearly half a million B.C. residents are getting their blood and lab test results on their computers and mobile devices, and plans are in the works to give patients radiology test results too.
The era of patient consumerism and empowerment has arrived, as evidenced by the ever-growing number of B.C. residents who’ve subscribed to the free â€œmy eHealthâ€ service provided by Excelleris Technologies, a division of LifeLabs, the biggest medical lab company in B.C. (The cost of providing the service is included in the fees that labs charge Victoria.)
While some doctors had concerns about how patients would react to getting bad news online instead of first hearing it from them, Dr. Shelley Ross, a former president of the B.C. Medical Association (now Doctors of B.C.), said Monday she hasn’t heard of many problems since the service launched in 2010.
â€œWe’re certainly pleased that people are taking an active part in their health care. The whole trend is to make patients partners in their care, and having access to these tests is one way to do that.
â€œThe only time there’s an issue is when patients get a little anxious about results that are slightly out of range. It generates a lot of phone calls to doctor’s offices,â€ she said. Those telephone consultations are now covered by the Medical Services Plan, negating the need for an appointment, she noted.
Ross said she knows plenty of proactive patients who go online the day after their tests, which means they may see results before their doctors do.
Krystyna Hommen, CEO of Excelleris, said the most common query from patients has to do with the process for registering with a password so they can get their results through the secure web portal. â€œThe vast number of calls to the customer service centre have to do with forgotten passwords. And some people are frustrated about the steps in the process,â€ she said, noting there can be no shortcuts when confidential patient information is at stake.
Hommen said the current level of participation is particularly impressive considering the service has not been widely advertised. Patients over the age of 16 who get lab tests at any of the 100 LifeLabs or hospital outpatient labs in the Vancouver Coastal Health region are eligible. Hommen said she thinks as many as two million patients â€” nearly half of B.C.’s population â€” will ultimately register.
After four years, the biggest lesson learned is that patients could benefit by having lab test results accompanied by plain language definitions and explanations, Hommen said. She said she’s exploring that as a still free, but value-added service.
â€œApart from that, I honestly can’t think of anything that has caused us to step back and re-think the whole process,â€ she said.
Before the introduction of â€œmy eHealth,â€ lab patients could request reports be mailed to their homes. About 40,000 individuals received such hard copies each month.
Dr. Bruce Forster, head of the University of B.C. department of radiology and regional head of medical imaging, Vancouver Coastal Health/Providence Health, said secure patient portals for sharing information are on the horizon.
â€œWe are in the midst of deployment of speech recognition software throughout the Lower Mainland, which considerably shortens report turnaround time,â€ he said. â€œWe will then begin to go live (in the next few months) with electronic reporting to physician’s offices which will replace the current paper-based system, using the same information technology backbone as the labs use.â€
Once the physician-to-physician system is operating smoothly, patient access to imaging results via secure web portals will follow, he said.
To find out more about how to get your lab tests online, go to: excelleris.com/our-solutions/myehealth/
Sun Health Issues Reporter
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