Government & Policy
Quebec’s patient health portal goes live this week
May 23, 2018
A digital health portal giving Quebec patients access to their own data was set to launch this week. Carnet santé Québec will be available on computers, tablets and smartphones, Health Minister Gaétan Barrette (pictured) announced.
“The online service is a tool for the patient that will be simple, safe, secure – and free,” Barrette said. Much like an online bank account, only the client will be able to access his or her health data, he added.
Announced in December, the government is to roll out the program over the next two years, starting with an online registration process that goes live this week, the Montreal Gazette reported.
Initially, patients will be able to consult their “carnet” or health booklet for a list of medications received from the pharmacy going back five years, laboratory results for urine and blood tests, and medical imaging tests such as X-rays.
As of September, patients will be able to see how much their doctor billed for each procedure and medical intervention. Eventually, the system is to include all medical interventions done in offices, clinics and hospitals – for example, an operation to remove an appendix will be broken down according to fees for surgery, hospitalization, medication and staff.
By 2019, patients will be able to see their progress on wait lists for surgery.
Barrette called it a step toward transparency.
“This is a major step toward modernizing our health network,” Barrette said. “Thanks to this new service, patients will be able to take charge and be the drivers of their own health.”
However, test results will not be delivered immediately. The patient will have to wait 30 days to access the information to give the doctor the necessary time to meet and discuss serious health conditions.
Technically it’s possible to have a blood test taken in the morning and have the results in the afternoon, Barrette said. But the government doesn’t want patients getting bad news on their phones or computer screens without first having a discussion with their physician.
“The delay is a work in progress,” Barrette said. “We can’t filter out what is benign from something more serious like a cancer diagnosis. So the delay is that you can visit the doctor first and get the information in person.”
Quebec tested the carnet with 20,000 patients already registered with family doctors in Laval and Quebec City.
Eventually patients will be able to use the portal to book an appointment with a family physician.
Also, the online system will eventually be equipped with a virtual encyclopedia with information about illnesses and conditions and possible treatment options.
Registration will be handled by the provincial health insurance board, the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec, and is a two-step process. Patients will have to request a security code from RAMQ before proceeding.
It will cost the government $11 million to set up the system and $2 million a year to maintain it.