My career began as a co-op student at the University of Waterloo. My first professional job was with Algoma Steel, an illustrious company in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The job started in January 1980, working for the MIS department in their Database Administration group. Winter in the Sault are legendary, for those of you who don't know where Sault Ste. Marie I welcome you to look it up and see the winter temperatures. The company, the people and the job experience was great, and I was pleased and happy to be asked to return for a second work-term the following year, this time in the fall a glorious time to be in Algoma and experience the fall colours of Agawa Canyon.
Following this wonderful experience my next company job was with Canada Trust in their IT Headquarters in London, Ontario. Further south, and again a great company, exceptional professionals and fulfilling job roles for a student yet to complete his degree. I worked with the credit card processing, mortgages and corporate loans systems. I also was exposed to ATM processing. For three consecutive work-terms my software development skills improved and business acumen increased.
When it comes to health we all share the same desires. We want to be able to book an appointment without waiting, get our prescriptions refilled quickly, see our test results and get sound advice from our doctors; in other words receive the best possible care without delay. Even in todays connected, internet based, consumer focused marketplace the challenges of getting an appointment the same day with your doctor is challenging. Dealing with multiple phone calls rather than emails or online booking, the doctor’s office is more like the office in "Mad Men" for the 1960s than what we would expect from modern 21st century offices. Modern medicine is still being "practiced" on paper, your health information in a file folder, and if you do receive the information it is often well after the fact.
When it comes to connecting with your family, you’re more likely to do so by email, text messaging, facetime or skype. To communicate with your doctor you need to phone someone, book an appointment, travel to their office, sit and wait, reading out of date mags in a waiting room that heralds back to a bygone age. You may get some lab results printed out or hand written prescription (that you can’t read) and a few minutes of your doctor's precious time. You may want to consider that you likely spend 1 or 2 hours of your time to book an appointment, travel to the doctor’s office, paid for parking and waited to get 5 or 10 minutes of face time with your doctor.
Then what? If you're not well prepared you could leave the appointment with not much more than a slip of paper, and some suggests. By the time you reach your car or get home you realize you forgot to mention something or have a question still to ask. Too bad, either make another appointment or leave it.
Of course if you are like me and have had to deal with multiple doctors at multiple hospitals and clinic, you learn to come prepared. Make a list of your conditions, keep track of your medications, who prescribed them, when and why? Record your problems and keep all your lab results, prescriptions and other documentation in one place. Why? Because you learn quickly that your family doctor doesn't have the latest results from the hospital, they may not even know you went into a different clinic. And if you go to see a specialist they don't have any idea of your past conditions, operations or medications. Forget about lab results, any new doctor you see will want to run their own test even when it was only done last week and the same lab is used, the new doctor wants their own.
When faced with a serious condition, like cancer a team of doctors are often involved, radiologist, oncologist, internist, and nutritionist; a well-organized team of professional all interested in your wellbeing. Of course, they use the latest technology, advanced drugs and well researched and test methodology, still their most advanced communication to you and your family is likely to be a fax machine, telephone and notepad.
Social networking and the internet technology that has revolutionized every other industry is still faced with an uphill challenge to modernize the current healthcare system. Unable to stem the tide of modern technology it has become apparent to all that no further delay is acceptable. It is an imperative for all healthcare professional to stop using antique methods to communicate in this modern age.
Since December 2012, Clarity Health Journal has been deployed at the Hospital for Sick Children(SickKids) of Toronto to support the Hematology and Oncology Department in a research project involving families dealing with Childhood Cancer.
When a child is diagnosed with cancer families are called on to perform a number of tasks during their child’s treatment: advocate, recordkeeper and caregiver are just a few. Can family engagement led to better outcomes?
Giving parents a family health journal to track medications, lab results and discharge summaries allows families to fully participate in their child's care. Online communication with caregivers and physicians means better access to Infomation. Before appointments caregivers can review food diary, medication dosage, fatigue, sleep patterns and side affects entered by the parents. Combined with current lab results better treatment and outcomes can be realized.
Once again we show our commitment to interoperability in healthcare by demonstrating Clarity Health Journal as part of this years eHealth Interoperability Showcase. In previous years we showed families managing diabetes using home devices and sharing result with physicians. This is always a very compelling scenario and one that may families dealing with chronic conditions can relate to.
Come and join us at eHealth 2013 in Ottawa and view the demonstration of Clarity Health Journal.
This year's scenario deals with home monitoring of COPD and Congestive heart failure. This are deceases that have high-complexity and require a team approach to manage a persons health at home. Clarity Health Journal will demonstrate how Homecare assessment, physician contact and home monitoring devices can be brought together with Health Links to help a family deal with these chronic conditions. In an every increasingly fragmented healthcare system the ability to provide Health Links is critical to the overall health and outcome of the home bound patient.