N.S. patient portal stalls as vendor drops out
August 21, 2019
HALIFAX – The Nova Scotia government is looking for a new service provider to manage MyHealthNS, after the leading technology company involved in its creation chose not to renew its contract to manage the web portal.
CBC News reports the service was rolled out provincewide in 2017 and was touted as the first digital health service of its kind to be available provincewide in Canada. It allows patients to view routine medical test results and to message their physicians.
“The decision not to renew the contract was not taken lightly, as discussions took place over the last eight months to try and find a sustainable path forward for both McKesson Canada and the province,” company spokesperson Andrew Forgione wrote in a statement to CBC News.
Asked why the company wasn’t renewing the contract, Forgione didn’t provide an explanation.
Nova Scotia Health Minister Randy Delorey (pictured) refused to provide any details about the seemingly amicable parting of ways. “Really, that’s a business decision within McKesson,” he said. “I’m not going to speak on their behalf as to their rationale and decision-making process.
“Suffice to say they respected the terms and conditions of their contract and have provided the services that they were required to provide.”
Delorey said the portal would remain up and running and that users could continue to use it as they have, but people not currently using the system won’t be able to subscribe to it until the platform is replaced.
Clare physician Michelle Dow not only used MyHealthNS, she was part of the advisory group set up to suggest ways to improve it.
“There was a bit of disappointment on my part because there’s a few unknowns on what’s going to happen with the portal,” said the former Doctors Nova Scotia president.
Dow said her patients tell her they like the system and she gets several messages a week from patients who ask her questions or have concerns. In some cases, the online interaction is enough to satisfy those patients and that frees her up to see more people who want a face-to-face appointment.
Dow hoped a new service provider could be found soon and that MyHealthNS could be improved and expanded.
“The functionality that I would really like to see in the clinic is something like e-booking,” she said.
Still, according to CBC news, fewer than 10 percent of Nova Scotia’s doctors have joined the portal.
Dow said one of the reasons so few doctors have signed up is the introduction of the service happened roughly at the same time as doctors offices were moving to new electronic medical records software. She said that may have discouraged some from shouldering additional IT changes.