PUTTING CANADIANS AT THE CENTRE OF CARE
For too long, Canadians have been unable to take control of their health care. Access to information, especially medical records, has generally been available only to clinicians. However, in many First Nations communities, this is not the case. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Mustimuhw Information Solutions Inc., a subsidiary of the Cowichan Tribes of British Columbia, is supporting the health and well-being of First Nations across the country by providing digital health solutions and tools to health care providers and patients in those communities.
One way they’re helping is through their Community Electronic Medical Record system (cEMR), also called Mustimuhw. The platform, which has been growing and evolving for the past 20 years, supports a range of services including community health nursing, public health, immunization, mental health and unique paraprofessional services by providing care teams with single-source access to patient charts and records. According to Mustimuhw Information Solutions CEO, Mark Sommerfeld, who has been at the forefront of the cEMR project since its inception, “It is a digital health footprint that provides the foundation for all First Nations Health Centres.”
DEVELOPING COMMUNITIES THROUGH ACCESS
In 2016, Mustimuhw partnered with Canada Health Infoway and McKesson RelayHealth to develop a Citizen Health Portal. The portal provides a layer of access that allows clients to view and update their own medical records in the cEMR.
“Positive results were apparent from the beginning,” says Mark. “More than 90 per cent of participants reported that access to their medical records helped them improve their health care, while more than 74 per cent reported an improved ability to access and communicate with their health care providers.”
Mark, who has deep experience in the development of First Nations communities, believes that citizen access to medical records is a fundamental part of building healthier communities. He sees Mustimuhw, which is a Coast Salish word meaning “all of the people,” as a community development success story. “It’s movement and change from the ground up.”
CLOSING THE CIRCLE OF CARE
Francine Gascoyne is a community nurse for the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council; she practises nursing in the Nuu-chah-hulth way, respecting each client’s individual health journey. “Mustimuhw allows me to nurse in a way that reflects the values of First Nations people, through relationship and connection.”
The Citizen Health Portal closes the circle of care by bringing clients into the care team as active participants and collaborators. The belief is that clients should have the biggest say in what care they receive and how they receive it.
“When I chart using Mustimuhw, it’s a collaborative process. We show clients what is being documented, and we let them make changes, so that they can tell their health story in their own way, using their own words,” says Francine.
A single source for all information has also created greater efficiencies across health care teams. Every member within the circle of care has access to charts, effectively reducing the potential for errors and eliminating the need to search for information or create duplicate records. Clients can even engage with their health care team directly through the portal.
LEADING THE CHARGE IN DIGITAL HEALTH CARE
Canada Health Infoway is supporting a national rollout of the project to enable more First Nations communities to take advantage of the benefits of Mustimuhw. Mark considers those communities that have adopted the cEMR platform as leaders of the digital health revolution in Canada. He hopes that more stakeholders will join the ACCESS 2022 movement to help bring Canadian health care into the 21st century, so that we can all benefit.