Province announces final day for online health tool MyHealthNS is March 31

Less than four years ago, people in the Nova Scotia health-care system were predicting MyHealthNS would help transform the way patients and doctors interacted. At the end of March, the plug will be pulled on the system.

The electronic patient-management program, which started as a pilot project, allowed doctors and patients to interact digitally. Patients could send their doctors questions, book appointments and receive test results, all without having to pick up the phone or go into an office.

But although users seemed to like the system, it never caught on the way the government hoped and the contract between service provider McKesson Canada and the province will end on March 31.

A three-year pilot project included 6,000 patients and 35 doctors. Today, that's increased to 38,000 patients and 320 providers, fewer than the 365 the government hoped would be in place by March 2017 and not even close to 80 per cent of all family doctors that was hoped for by year five of the program.

Part of the stumbling block was payment. Some doctors were concerned they weren't being compensated for certain elements of the system, despite temporary funds being established to try to get physicians to start using the program.

Company, province couldn't agree to new contract

The death blow came last August when McKesson Canada announced it would not renew its contract with the provincial government. Neither party gave a reason for the decision.

At the time, only $8.5 million of the $13.3 million budgeted for the project had been used. The federal government paid 75 per cent of the cost, with the province covering the rest.

Until Friday's announcement, a firm end date for MyHealthNS was not known.

The province issued a news release and patients using MyHealthNS received an email saying the final day for health-care providers to access the system will be March 27 and the final day patients can access the system is March 31.

Patients will receive instructions on how to download their data and they will have until the end of March to do so.

According to the email to patients, any data not downloaded by the March 31 deadline will be "securely and permanently destroyed by the vendor," and the Department of Health will receive a certificate of destruction.