On December 1st, the Group Health Centre (GHC) hit a major milestone: they surpassed 3,500 patients on their online patient portal, myCARE (the largest patient portal of its kind in Canada), fulfilling the final target set by Canada Health Infoway for the project a full month ahead of schedule.
myCARE provides patients with an alternate way to access care – giving them the option of sending messages directly to their healthcare team, requesting renewals of prescriptions, scheduling appointments and even reviewing select test results all from their computer or mobile device.
Dr. Russell Tull, one of the first primary care providers at GHC on myCARE, now has a third of his practice using the portal. “It’s made a huge difference for my patients, and it helps my office run more efficiently,” said Dr. Tull. “I’ve been able to save patients a trip in to the office, or a phone call, because they’ve been able to get the answers they need through the portal. And because we’re saving some of these patients an appointment, it means I have time to see other patients in office.”
While myCARE is a great example of how digital health is helping GHC make improvements in access to care, the organization has also been making great strides with access since reorganizing the way they deliver some of their in-person services.
Changes to same-day appointment services in the fall of 2014 has meant almost double the number of patients are able to access same-day care– including getting more patients in to see their own primary care provider, ensuring a continuity of care that can only be achieved when patients receive care from the person who is most familiar with their medical history. Same day appointments are available to GHC patients Monday through Friday (five days a week) from 8:00am to 8:00pm.
Early in the New Year, GHC will be rolling out further changes to improve access and patient experience. The full implementation of a new communications system will give patients better access to their primary care provider’s office by phone, and will further improve workflows in offices.
This is in addition to improvements to GHC’s Diagnostic Imaging program, which include increased hours of service, several new procedures, and near-zero wait times for all procedures.
Ultimately, all of these changes add up to better access to care for over 71,000 patients of the Group Health Centre in Sault Ste. Marie and the Algoma District.
There are currently 38 primary care providers participating in myCARE at GHC, and there are plans to include specialty physicians and programs in the New Year. If you are a member of GHC and would like to sign up for myCARE, you can request your account simply by visiting myCARE.ghc.on.ca and clicking on the “Request Online” button.