Since February 2006 Sunnybrook Hospital patients have been able to access their hospital health record information, including most appointments, using the organization’s online personal health record system, MyChart.
However, until recently, patients couldn’t use the system to access office appointments with Sunnybrook’s family practice unit.
“Primary care physicians are using their own electronic medical record system, which is not integrated with the hospital’s electronic patient record system,” says Sarina Cheng, Sunnybrook’s health records department director. “Therefore family practice patients could not see any appointments scheduled with their family practice physician in MyChart.”
In late February, the two groups agreed to let patients access their family practice appointments using MyChart, although the two systems will remain separate.
“This gives patients more control over their health information,” Cheng says. “It’s easier to take care of health business when you see every appointment listed in one place.”
Based on the same technology as online banking, MyChart online access is available to more than 1.4 million records in Sunnybrook’s electronic patient record system.
“Patients can create, manage and share their own clinical and personal health information as they choose,” Cheng says. “They can share their information with multiple physicians, family members, care teams, friends or not at all.”
Through MyChart, patients can access clinical record information, view past and current primary care visits and manage emergency information such as allergies, health status, prescribed medications and emergency contacts.
“A large number of MyChart users are cancer patients actively monitoring their health status, appointments, screening, treatments, lab work and radiology results,” Cheng says.
“Family members use MyChart while caring for an elderly parent to stay actively involved in the parent’s care,” she says. “They can log symptoms, appointments and meals in the patient’s personal diary, have access to clinical care team contact information and test results, and are able to keep all of the information organized in MyChart from their home or from their workplace.”
Before MyChart was launched, patients would have to visit the hospital’s health records department and request a release of information, waiting up to 30 days.
“Having access to this information is critical in emergency situations,” Cheng says. “If patients visit another hospital emergency room, they can quickly provide the physician with access to any previous health information such as medications, health status and recent tests.”
It also reduces health system costs by not duplicating tests.
Sunnybrook patients can use MyChart free of charge. New patients can register online, over the phone, in person at the hospital’s health records department or leave an email address during an appointment.