A new online portal allows New Brunswickers to view their general lab results.
The portal is found on MyHealthNB under MyHealth Records. People can go back to the month of their last blood work and find results, which include a scale showing if the result is low, normal or high.
At first, the portal was piloted to a select cohort of New Brunswickers, but it was unlocked for the general public on Jan. 11, Health Department spokesperson Adam Bowie said in an email.
About 215,000 New Brunswickers — people with verified accounts with MyHealth — have access to the portal, he said.
Bowie said immunizations, medication profiles and other lab results will be added over time.
Rob Roscoe, a pharmacist and diabetes educator based in Rothesay, told the CBC's Shift letting patients access their own lab results is a good step, especially for people living with chronic diseases. He used a diabetic's A1C results as an example.
"They may be wondering how they're doing or how they can fastly access that number," Roscoe said. "And a lot of them get quite anxious, they want to know that number.
"Then they have to go back in to see their doctor, which puts a little bit more burden on the office. … But if they can just go online and see that number, they can actually see where it is sooner."
Roscoe said having these numbers available to patients online will also make some more proactive in their chronic disease management
If the A1C or cholesterol results are abnormal, he said it might motivate people to make healthier changes or understand their risks better, since "that's their own blood results that are telling them so they can't argue with their own results."
He said he often had people ask him why they can't see their own results since some other provinces already have such a service.
And when speaking with other medical professionals on a national level, he said, he's found a lot of them surprised that New Brunswickers didn't have access.
Still, Roscoe has a few concerns about the online service, especially what might happen in the first few weeks it's available.
For example, he said, if a patient's kidney function result might not be in a perfect range if they were a little dehydrated while getting their blood taken.
A health professional might look at that as a trend over a number of different tests, he said, so it might not be cause for concern. But a patient might misinterpret what the number means.
"They may be out of normal range, but it still may be quite acceptable," he said.
Bowie, at the Health Department, said New Brunswickers can discuss their results with their health-care provider as part of their regular followup, but that if any followup care is needed, theh patient's health-care provider should contact them.
Roscoe said he thinks there will be a learning curve at the start, and especially keen individuals might turn to Google to see if they should be concerned about any of their numbers.
But he said others might get a little too concerned when examining their own results and want to get in to see their doctor immediately.
"People that may be overly concerned about their numbers, or not understanding what those numbers are, initially may panic a little bit and kind of flood the market," Roscoe said.
But he said this isn't necessarily a bad thing. If people are seeking more information about their results, it means they're engaged and might want to do something about their health, he said.
If a patient has a concern they bring to their doctor, the doctor may want to discuss other options options. Transparency is important, he said.
"It allows us both to explain their situation, it may take a little time initially, but you know, knowledge is power."