New medical technology to give patients more control over medical info
New medical technology to give patients more control over medical infoCanadians afflicted with chronic diseases may have an easier time managingtheir medical information and how it‟s disseminated through the healthcaresystem in the future.Hundreds of thousands of Canadians are currently living with various chronicdiseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratoryillnesses, muskoskeletal conditions and mental disorders. Those afflicted mustsee a variety of healthcare practitioners who are often spread out acrosshealthcare districts or hospital networks.As a result, patients‟ medical records are widely disseminated through thehealthcare system, potentially compromising their privacy, but also givingthem little access to their own medical information. Yet a new initiativeemerging out of Alberta could soon change that.
Researchers at the University of Alberta have launched a $1.3-million study –funded by Telus and dubbed the Living Laboratory Community – to developand commercialize innovative healthcare technologies, including theimplementation, monitoring and analysis of a new electronic medical-recordplatform.The new platform, called Health Space, will allow patients to securely uploadtheir own health history and records, and choose who gets to to be privy totheir personal information.“Think of it as an online bank account,” said Dr. Martin Ferguson-Pell, Dean ofthe Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta and Chairof the Health Sciences Council. “This portal will give patients suffering fromchronic diseases direct access to their personal health record as well as theopportunity to better manage their own information.”Health Space runs on secure data servers and traces all electronic transactions.Patients‟ records are their personal property and can only be shared with theirconsent.
“Fraud is a reality in all online data platforms, whether it is banking or anyother service,” said Paul Lepage, senior vice-president at Telus HealthSolutions. “The technology might not be the solution for everyone, but in themajority of cases, [Health Space] will allow patients to have better control oftheir information.”Telus is also planning to implement sensor technology to several medicaldevices, such as blood glucose meters, to allow for an automatic update of apatient‟s medical information to Health Space.“Currently, there is no integrated way of sharing real time data,” said Mr.Ferguson-Pell. “These devices will pair with Health Space and allow for real-time monitoring by health care professionals.”In addition, the technology is expected to significantly reduce the daily routinefollow-up appointments required because information will be shared betweenthe patient and healthcare professional remotely.
“The data Health Space collects will save resources within the system since wewill be able to track patterns in a patient‟s medical history and see anyfluctuations or potential risk factors well before they become an emergency,”said Mr. Ferguson-Pell.Officials at the University of Alberta hope to garner additional funding for theinitiative so that it can have national scope in the future.Data privacy and security is a key concern of any technology relatedadvancement within the field of healthcare. Acroseas feels that „Health Space‟is a welcoming innovation where the owners of maintaining „security‟ is givento the individual record holders.