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Digital identity service to place patients at the centre of their care

Posted Mar 30th, 2021

Four Ontario hospitals are launching a digital identity service to give patients a convenient, reliable, accessible and secure method to access health information and services online. This initiative is being led by Niagara Health, building on the hospital’s foundational Navigator mobile app technology. 

Niagara Health, Southlake Regional Health Centre, North York General Hospital, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and their technology partners, IDENTOS and SecureKey Technologies, are proud to introduce the Ontario trusted account, a service that allows patients to prove their identity online, just as they would in person using their Ontario Health Card, Driver’s License or Photo Card.

Patients in Ontario are currently served by a patchwork of digital tools and online health services. This fragmentation has created challenging experiences for patients who must use multiple login usernames and passwords to access these services, each with different levels of privacy and security standards. Offering a solution to these challenges, the Ontario trusted account allows patients to access a number of health-related services without having to log in and out each time, while providing them with full control over what information they choose to share and whom they share it with.  Together with user consent, transparency and encryption that protects patient data, we are enabling seamless and secure access to digital health services or personal health information (PHI), making lives easier for Ontarians.  A single Ontario trusted account is reusable across participating partners and enables patients to access resources and services across multiple platforms with one secure log-in.

The development of the Ontario trusted account builds on the Niagara Health Navigator mobile app, launched in 2019, which engages and connects patients to local health services. Through the app, users can check Emergency Department wait times, access COVID-19 resources at the hospital, including their test results, provide feedback about their care experience at the hospital, and find supports for caregivers.

The March 2021 release of the Ontario trusted account will be available to patients of Niagara Health and Southlake Regional Health Centre through the hospitals’ respective Navigator mobile applications. In this pilot phase, a subset of patients at Niagara Health’s Niagara Falls Site will be able to securely check in and confirm ultrasound appointments using the Ontario trusted account. At Southlake Regional Health Centre, patients can use the service to manage appointments for a variety of outpatient clinics starting with the hospital’s Hand Clinic and Cardiac Diagnostics Unit.

This patient digital identity service is an initiative funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health. The Government of Ontario selected Niagara Health and Southlake Regional Health Centre to lead this initiative in 2019. Niagara Health and Southlake Regional Health Centre then partnered with St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and North York General to develop a patient digital identity solution.

Later this year, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and North York General Hospital will launch their respective Navigator mobile applications giving patients in their communities the ability to use the Ontario trusted account. As the Ontario trusted account expands over time, it will allow patients at the four hospitals to:

  • Securely share personal health information with caregivers, other health care providers or family members.
  • Manage and access health information and digital health services (e.g., virtual care) from multiple providers using only one login and password.
  • Grant or remove access to health information using the application.
The province will continue to monitor and evaluate for potential expansion of the Ontario trusted account beyond the initial four hospitals.

Digital identity is a key enabler for the Digital First for Health Strategy and a key focus area for the government’s overall Digital Identity strategy. The Digital First for Health strategy will enable system integration and the sharing of information so that patients receive seamless care. The new service is supported by technology developed through the Digital Identity initiative.

The patient digital identity service is a part of the broader work being done by the Treasury Board Secretariat and the Ministry of Health to accelerate the adoption of digital identities and digital transformation within Ontario’s Health system to make patient access easier and more convenient. Digital Identity is part of Ontario Onwards: Ontario’s COVID-19 Action Plan for a People-Focused Government, which includes more than 30 projects that will change the way people and businesses interact with government.

For more information on the Ontario trusted account, visit https://mytrustedaccount.ca

QUOTES

“Ontarians deserve a twenty-first century health care system that leverages modern technology to make it easier, simpler and more convenient for patients to navigate their health care journey, while still safeguarding patient privacy and security. The Ontario trusted account is an example of how made-in-Ontario innovations can enhance the patient experience and support better, connected patient care.”

–  Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health 

“Providing patients with a safe and secure Digital Identity service is another way we're building a people-focused government that delivers simpler and easier services when, where and how the people of Ontario need them. This initiative is also an important step towards delivering on our promise to introduce a Digital Identity to all Ontarians by the end of 2021." 

-          Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board, Minister of Finance and Minister Responsible for Digital and Data Transformation

“At Niagara Health, we’re excited to be leading this initiative, which will empower patients by giving them increased control over their personal health information and access to virtual care, effectively placing them at the centre of their care. This service will be secure and easy to use, allowing patients to focus on what matters most: their health and wellbeing. Working with our outstanding partners, we are well positioned to deliver this solution using the highest standards of online security, ensuring patients’ private information is protected. Once fully implemented, the Ontario trusted account will create a more connected health system in which patients have one application to access their information from a range of providers, including hospitals, family doctors and other community providers.”  

-          Lynn Guerriero, President and Interim CEO, Niagara Health.

“We are looking forward to launching this exciting initiative with our public and private-sector partners in order to provide more connected care for our communities. This approach will enable patients to be at the centre of their care, facilitating seamless access to secure digital health tools, including online health records and virtual care. Digital infrastructure such as this supports the vision of Southlake’s strategic plan and aligns with the vision of our Ontario Health Team as it makes the benefits of an integrated health system even more tangible for both patients and providers.”

-          Rob Bull, VP Finance, Technology and Innovation and Chief Financial Officer, Southlake Regional Health Centre.

“At North York General we are dedicated to building the connections patients need to access their health information and interact with the hospital online. For this reason, NYGH is focused on providing patients with technology to optimize their experience and improve the care they receive. Through this partner initiative, we hope to empower our patients by providing more streamlined, secure access to patient tools and interactive resources.  With this tool we will continue to build our digital health platforms for patients and seek opportunities to extend the value of the Patient Digital Identity Service to our Ontario Health Team, the North York Toronto Health Partners.  Now more than ever digital innovations will be key to the future of health care.”

-          Duska Kennedy, Chief Digital Officer, North York General Hospital

“As part of our strategic plan, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton is committed to empowering patients and families to improve self-management and self-care through increasing access to digital tools. We’ve become an innovative leader in the field of digital health since the launch of MyDovetale, a secure online portal where St. Joe’s patients and their loved ones can view their health information, coordinate appointments, see test results and message with their care team. We’re proud to be partnering on this initiative with Niagara Health, North York General Hospital and Southlake Regional Health Centre, to help enhance the access to health information for patients in other regions, as well as our own.” 

-          Tara Coxon, Chief Information Officer, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton

“We are very proud to be a part of this project and to see such great leadership and collaboration from the organizations involved.  We are certain the Ministry foresight to develop these foundational capabilities will see a great return for Ontarians and the economy through enablement of digital health innovations."

-          Mike Cook, CEO, IDENTOS & Greg Wolfond, CEO Securekey Technologies Inc.

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