Electronic Health Records

eHealth has been a major and controversial topic lately. A lot of time and effort has been spent on it, as there are many issues such as costs, privacy, security, and standards.

I had an encounter with the health system recently, and from my observations as a patient we need to keep this initiative moving, find ways to solve those issues, and stop using paper. I paid particular attention to the paper and documents that were created. Throughout the process, I was asked the same thing multiple times. (Confirming who I was and what they were going to do multiple times to make sure they don’t make a mistake is welcome, though.) Once I noticed that a nurse was looking at one document, and copying information off it onto another. By the time it was over, the clipboard had many pieces of paper on it. No doubt some of that might be entered into an electronic record – which means double entry. And some of it will get left on the paper and put in a file somewhere never to be seen again.

The current health care record system has another fundamental flaw – in that records are centered around a particular doctor or hospital, when they should be patient centric. Health care providers would have much better information about us if they had access to all of our records from the various family doctors, specialists, dentists, etc. that we encounter over our lifetimes. That would lead to better treatment, and less time spent asking the same questions about things like family history and medications. Patient centric records would also allow us to take better charge of our own health needs, including preventative health care.

We have the technology, let’s rebuild it.


  1. Interesting and welcome post. I wonder to myself how we are able to maintain a province wide vehicle and license registration system through the Ministry of Transportation, yet we seem unable to engineer a province wide heath care registry that is “patient centric” (if I may borrow your terminology). I have had significant difficulties in my attempts to convey my personal health records from one orthopaedic specialist to another. This month I celebrate my 29th birthday, and it is perplexing that I can go to a local MTO office in London, Woodstock, Ingersoll, Stratford, Kitchener, or Sudbury and each office will be willing and able to, in a matter of minutes I might add, take my $75.00 in exchange for my new plate validation sticker.

    Given consideration to the number of people in Ontario who are without a family physician, it explains the prevalence of the Walk-in-clinic method of health care which has developed out of necessity. Obviously, these clinics do not provide benefit of in depth and detailed patient history which is an intrinsic element in the family physician-patient relationship. I would suggest that a patient centered province wide health care central registry would not only reduce wait times by eliminating or mitigating the superfluous information gathering, but it would provide for a patient specific “heath care troubleshooting schematic” which would unequivocally aid in diagnosis. It could also be suggested that such a system would reduce malpractice actions, if only marginally, because your doctor could have your medical history on his Ipad at your bedside. This is the kind of health care system I want my tax dollars supporting.

    Nick M.