Yukoners' health info to be easier to access, transfer in 2020, government says

Yukoners' health information is moving to an updated system, and the rollout is expected to begin next year.

The system is called "1Health Yukon." The company responsible is Meditech, which has also provided the current system.

The current system, nearly three decades old, is not user-friendly, according to Jennifer Potvin, chief information officer for the territory's Health and Social Services (HSS).

"Our systems are fragmented right now," she said at the press event for the announcement in Whitehorse last Friday.

Transferring health records between different health practitioners is not easy right now, Potvin said, but the updated system will give them one connected system to do so instantly.

"Going forward, we'll have those channels available to us to ensure that the information goes along with the client, as it needs to."

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The territorial government is paying $7.2 million for the update, including planning, design, and implementation. The government got that money through Health Canada's Territorial Health Investment Fund.

The future ongoing costs of the program haven't been determined yet.

"We already do pay licensing costs with Meditech, and we don't anticipate there being an extensively large increase to that licensing fee," Potvin said. 

Planning and design is underway, and the department is working with physicians to help develop standards and workflows.

Potvin said the plan is to digitize every patient's health information.

"The client has full control over who would see or have access to that information," she said.

When asked if patients can choose not to have their information on the system, Potvin said, at this time, it's "not likely."

The department expects to launch 1Health Yukon with the Yukon Hospital Corporation, which manages three hospitals, in November 2020, she said, "and then we're working through a bit of a phased rollout for our places within Health and Social Services."

Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost couldn't answer which company has been commissioned for the project, what new features the new program will offer that aren't available with the current system, or how much the program will cost going forward, among other questions.

On the topic of protecting people's privacy, Frost said Yukon's Health Information Privacy and Management Act protects that kind of info.

"People should be very comfortable," she said, before terminating the interview.