While the United States and Canadian health systems are worlds apart on many levels, one common challenge in both systems is the frustrating lack of information integration. From the simple request such as the endless need for the patient to recount their health history at every point of admission to the health care system, to the more complex request of identifying potentially life threatening drug conflicts, to massive waste related to duplicated tests; information technology has simply not been widely embraced worldwide by any health system.
Sam Marafioti, Vice President of eHealth at Sunnybrook and Women's stated: "We believe that the Continuity of Care Record and approach proposed by HRN will be effective in Canada." According to Sarina Lecce, Director eHealth strategies, "Sunnybrook and Women's expertise and focus in the areas of eHealth innovation will provide an ideal target market with women and families who are highly motivated to have a more hands-on approach to managing their health and who want to have greater access to the health information that will help them make decisions that are right for them."
One of the challenges in health care is that the delivery of health care does not neatly align with the individual. People age, they move, they need routine care, they may need emergency care or they may need chronic care support. We never know when or where we will require health services. However, our health needs are always influenced by our health history: what medications we take, what condition we have, etc. The idea of electronic health records owned by the consumer is to provide a continuity of care record that is available anytime and anywhere a consumer may require it.
Sam Marafioti added: "As the Ontario health care system moves toward Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN) this partnership may someday have a province wide impact in improving how patients and care providers communicate." Brian Baum, CEO of HRN, stated: "The one person that will always have the greatest concern about their health and that of their family is the consumer. It's time to put the information necessary for the consumer to more effectively manage their health care in the hands of the consumer."
While more and more people manage their finances on-line and follow a detailed service programme for the maintenance of their cars, when it comes to their health, most consumers have little knowledge of what they should be doing, how their lab results are trending, and how their health may compare to that of their peers. Are they healthier then average for their age, if not, what can they do about it? Individual electronic health records could providejust that type of insight, directly to the consumer. This information could strengthen the patient/care provider relationship by making the consumer a partner with their care team in managing their health.
The Sunnybrook and Women's HRN team will be working over the next few weeks to define the specific structure of the pilot. They expect to announce the details of the program by early spring with final results expected in 2006.
Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre is transforming health care 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 and Women's as one of Canada's premier health sciences centres. Sunnybrook and 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 programme at Sunnybrook and Women's, a Cancer Care Ontario partner and fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.
The Health Record Network, "America's Network for Record Health", is a Delaware based Not-for-Profit Corporation. Its mission is to create consumer demand for personal electronic health records. In addition to creating consumer demand, HRN will ultimately provide an on-line site for consumers to initiate the creation of their own, private health records. Originally founded as a joint effort between the Duke University Fuqua School of Business and the Duke University School of Medicine, the Health Record Network has quickly become an industry leader with its "consumer first" philosophy.