WATCH: Members of the Cowichan Tribes will have direct access to their own electronic health records and the chance to message their health care providers online. Monica Martinez reports.
In communities where members often don’t have a family doctor and language can be a barrier, direct access to health records can significantly improve care.
“Everything from immunization for children to care of the elderly. It’s really a cradle to grave improvement in continuity of care for everybody,” said Valerie Nicol, Executive Director of the Cowichan Valley Division of Family Practice.
The 400 patients from the Cowichan Tribes will now be able to view their electronic health record on their device, as well as schedule doctor appointments and even direct message their health care providers with concerns or questions.
“I think empowering patients is really key to innovation,” said Health Minister Terry Lake.
“For so long patients have relied on physicians and their health care team to make a lot decisions that they really weren’t a part of. This is really a 21st century way of engaging patients and allowing them to be part of the circle of care in a way they haven’t before.”
Patients can allow family members to access their information, and in a community where extended family is very important, that is key.
“I’m not expecting that everyone in our family is going to know our daughter’s entire health history. We are able to pull it up on our phone immediately and have that information, so that is extremely helpful,” said Toni Williams, a mother of two and tribe member.
Chief William Seymour said the system will go a long way in improving the care of elders.
“A lof of them do not understand English and at appointments aren’t able to have a family member with them. With a system like this they can have a member to go in the system and discuss what their needs are.”
The 18-month-pilot project is the first of its kind in B.C. and only second in Canada, and if successful could be broadened across the province – going a long way in boosting First Nations health care.