In B.C. today, the government is working on province-wide project called “E-Health”. This is a plan to move from paper files to a wide range of computerized databases and communication tools so health care can be delivered over distances, and so your health information can be seen or used more easily by more people.
The major aim of the project is to build a number of special databases to hold certain specific types of health information, and to connect them to each other and to doctors’ offices, so the information can travel between the databases, the Ministry of Health and health authorities, and doctors’ offices. These will be called “health information banks”.
The goal is to make it easier for doctors and other health care providers to see your health information. Doctors in BC are encouraged to move to electronic systems, and some of those systems will be connected to the larger “health information bank” system, which will be connected to labs, pharmacies, hospitals, health authorities and the Ministry. This system is currently being built, and the first health information bank has been developed and launched. It is called the Provincial Laboratory Information System or "PLIS". It is intended to hold all diagnostic laboratory test results done in BC after the date of its launch. PLIS is intended to provide simple and quick access for authorized health care providers to an individual's lab test results, and also enable the collection of laboratory information for the purpose of analyzing and managing chronic disease in BC.
People will be allowed by law to put some limits on who sees their health information in a health information bank by putting a “disclosure directive” on their electronic health record. For more information about disclosure directives and how to block people from seeing your personal health information see Limiting Who Can See Your Health Information.
Many people believe that developing an electronic system for personal health records will be of great benefit to the citizens of British Columbia. There are many others who have concerns about how privacy rights will be protected and how secure the systems will be.
More Information about E-Health in BC
British Columbia’s e-health project gets some funding from Canada Health Infoway, a federal agency created to develop a national electronic health records system.
More information about the government’s e-health system.
The Auditor-General’s audit of the progress of the E-Health initiative
Here is the PLIS project summary. Government newsletters announcing the launch of the PLIS pilot
The BC Government’s IM/IT Strategy for 2009 (look for the 2010 strategy coming soon).
A list of certain types of databases and who has access.
A critique of the government’s e-health plan.
The BC Civil Liberties Association Health Privacy Pages.