THE BLOG
01/03/2014 05:31 EST | Updated 03/05/2014 05:59 EST

Good Reasons You Patients Need to Go Digital If You Want to Take Control of Your Health

I spent eight months in and out of hospital, received eight operations on my left leg, had my left knee joint replaced twice, and had two cataract operations. Managing my care and booking appointments by phone took a lot of effort. I jumped at the chance to use a patient portal, a digital health tool that my doctor introduced me to.

I'm a young, wired 65-year-old woman from Halifax who has recently had many encounters with the health-care system. Twelve months ago, I swore to myself that 2013, the year I turned 65, would be the year I'd take charge of my health by improving my diet, increasing my exercise and decreasing my stress levels. I have a busy life and am accustomed to using computers to shop, book travel and keep in touch with friends and family. Little did I know, technology would also play an important role in supporting me to achieve my health goals.

I decided to take charge following a string of health concerns that helped me realize I have an important role to play in my own wellness. In the summer of 2011, I had a right knee replacement. Six months later I had recovered and my left knee was replaced. This time I developed a nasty post-operative infection -- one that in its various guises would be with me for most of the year.

In all, I spent eight months in and out of hospital, received eight operations on my left leg, had my left knee joint replaced twice, and had two cataract operations. Managing my care and wellness, booking appointments by phone, tracking my progress took a lot of effort.

It's no wonder I enthusiastically jumped at the chance to use a patient portal, a digital health tool that my doctor introduced me to.

Online, I discovered a safe site to record all my health records. Why not? I'm a wired senior. I bank online. I pay my bills online. I borrow library books online. I even shop online.

Soon I was using the portal to book appointments with my doctor. It was certainly more convenient than waiting on hold on the telephone. Now I could let my doctor's office know when I was available, what I needed to discuss and how long an appointment I needed.

Then I started recording my blood pressure, weight and body mass.

As I explored the system further, I found I could get test results online, with a note from my doctor to explain anything that was written in medical terminology. That eliminated the need to book appointments with her to get my results.

I now keep tabs on my medication, noting for myself when refills are needed. Soon I hope to be able to record what I eat and drink, daily exercise and other aspects of my health -- all in one secure spot. And, if I'm in another part of the world and fall ill, my health records will be a mouse click away.

I think all Canadians should have access to their medical information like I do.

If digital health empowers me to play a more active role in the management of my health and wellness, then it can certainly be of benefit to other Canadians.

Canada Health Infoway has launched a public education campaign called Better Health Together, aimed at helping Canadians learn more about the value and benefits of digital health.

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