Grand River Hospital and University Health Network
Online patient portal opens new doors
Experts say self–management combined with early intervention of health care teams can delay the progression of kidney disease in the pre–dialysis stage. With that aim, Kitchener's Grand River Hospital and University Health Network in Toronto are launching an online service to provide chronic kidney disease patients with the support and education they need to self–manage their health care.
Structured similar to an online banking website, the system is expected to enhance communication between patients and health care providers, as well as help patients identify goals and monitor their progress with the hope of reducing unplanned doctor visits.
All facets of phase one will be active by the end of November. Patients will be able to develop goals, access educational resources, journal, participate in discussion boards and view appointments online. Phase two, going "live" at the end of March 2008, will allow patients to access lab results and current medications listed in their electronic health record and request referrals to their Community Care Access Centre.
Claudette DeLenardo, Grand River's director, E–Health Technologies, says, "These portals can be used as a tool to enhance the patient's relationship with health care providers, set goals, get information and improve outcomes. In the long term, I believe they'll demonstrate that they lead to a better utilization of health care resources."
In 2003, Grand River developed an online service known as My CARE Source for patients with cancer, and University Health Network offers a portal, called InfoWell, for breast cancer survivors and patients with diabetes.
"When we started developing the online service in 2003, some people could not identify with what we were trying to do – but with the current emphasis on disease self–management, others are jumping on the bandwagon. It's a very exciting time," says Ms. DeLenardo.
The undertaking is made possible with the support of the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Information Network (LHIN), Canada Health Infoway and the Shared Information Management Services (SIMS) Partnership, a service that supports the information needs of 13 health care organizations in the Greater Toronto Area.
Some 1,500 patients in the LHINs of Waterloo/Wellington and Toronto Central will benefit from the current undertaking.