Easy access to your medical records should be a universal right. Canadians legally are entitled to access their personal medical documents and records. However in Canada and most countries, individuals do not have quick and easy access to medical records. It is often a long and arduous process just to get back basic medical files like immunization information or past test results. So where are all these medical records and patient information stored? It is often stored in databases within clinics or hospitals. At some clinics and hospitals there has been a movement towards creating portals, providing individuals access to their personal medical information. However, adoption of these databases by health care providers has been slow. Often even when these databases exist, patients are not told about them. In addition, individual's health files and information is often displaced over multiple different care providers. They may have health information at an optometrist, pharmacist, GP, hospitals, and many more, all of which they need to have access to. The major problem is that there is no easy way for someone to access all their consolidated healthcare information in one place. We have established that there is a problem with individuals not being able to access personal healthcare information. But why is it so important to have access to all your healthcare information as well as information on family members you are caring for?
Well here is why...
1. Control of Care
One of the most overlooked aspects of healthcare is ensuring patients and family feel comfortable, informed and in control of their healthcare journey. Personally, I have had multiple negative experiences with doctors not properly informing me on test results, treatment options, what to expect, etc. Feeling out of the loop regarding your, or a loved one's treatment can be an anxiety ridden experience. When you are given access to dependent's health updates, you feel more in control of their care. Yvonne Wright, whose mother underwent cancer treatment, was given full access to results from her mother's personal patient records to see results of tests.
Yvonne Wright was fortunate to have access to her mother's records and control of her mother's care. Sadly, many families do not share the same level of control in their family members care.
2. Patient discoveries from medical records
A study from the Journal of Electronic Health Data and records concluded that patient access to medical records can improve medical record accuracy. Patients can be given wrong test results, wrong medications, wrong symptom data, etc. With hospitals and clinics treating such a large volume of people per day, it is inevitable that files will have mistakes. The Canadian Medical Protective Association stated that there are more than 500 critical test results are missed because of an error in the recordings of medical documents. If medical files are more widely available to individuals more of these errors resulting in serous consequences could be avoided.
3. Moving through multiple care providers.
Do you have access to your prior test results and medical records when you move to a new doctor or get transferred to a new hospital? Yvonne DeVoest, the inspiration behind TAMVOES, is the perfect example of problems involved with having multiple care providers. She had to bring all her medical documents and personal information to all her medical appointments, she would have to repeat all her medical information to all her care givers and this became a very arduous and frustrating process. This process of repeating your story and test results is unfortunately a common occurrence for many. TAMVOES was created to have one place where individuals can easily share all their past medical experiences with health care professionals. This eliminates the process of repeating stories and ensures that individuals are more organized and have more control over their health and wellness information.
I hope this blog has given you a better understanding of the major problem with access to personal medical information we are currently faced with. You may not think this pertains to you, if your healthy and don't visit medical professionals frequently, but you never know when your or a loved ones health will take a turn for the worse. It is best to get started early and begin logging your and your loved one's health and personal information in TAMVOES. We hope that in the future we will see more people taking control of their personal information, both medical and otherwise.