One of the few benefits of working for a government organization is you sometimes get a glimpse of the future. Today I saw a demo of that future with an overview of the soon to be piloted Personal Health Portal or PHP.
I wrote about PHP in a prior blog which discussed Crowd-Sourcing as Virtual Medical Research. Today I saw a live demonstration which showed some of the screens and what one can do within the portal. Some possible functionality coming to a home computer (or mobile device) near you may include:
- The ability to review medication history,
- Add your own over the counter medications,
- Log your blood pressure or even up load that x-ray image you got in that Whitefish walk in clinic from that unfortunate skiing accident two years ago.
The end goal is for the patient to have very similar access to their health information as what their healthcare provider has through Alberta Netcare.
Privacy is of course paramount and must be considered. However, I would suggest that policy makers need to look at what people are doing as much as what they are saying. For example, are you entirely comfortable with you privacy agreement you have with your Facebook account? Probably not – but are you willing to live with it nevertheless? Probably yes. Government policy must not discount privacy but it must provide an informed consent to the reasonable person who is willing to live with a trade-off between convenience and risk. Just like Facebook, you will be able to vote with your feet (errr fingers). Thus if you don’t think the convenience of having ready access to your health information is worth the risk – then do not sign up to use online tools such as Facebook or the PHP when it is made available to the public.
The PHP is an example of how technology can be a productivity enabler and contribute, in a small way, to an improved standard and quality of life. Examples may include:
- Reviewing test results at home – rather than booking a doctors appointment;
- Having a way to monitor blood pressure over time – rather than keeping scratch logs or excel spreadsheets;
- Having one place to remember when you had that tetanus booster – rather than that shoe box under the bed.
The PHP is a great start on a much better way to understand and be responsible for our health. I am glad to have had a sneak peek and I am looking forward to it being part of the Alberta Health landscape. As I can, I will let you know more about the technology and possibilities.
DISCLOSURE and DISCLAIMER: the above comments and thoughts are exclusively those of Frank Potter. Although Frank is an employee of Alberta Health, the above opinions do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Department or Ministry. The functionality described of the PHP is purely speculation on Frank’s part; it does not necessarily represent the intended, planned or desired functionality of Alberta Personal Health Portal.