Cowichan Tribes launches new online health program

Cowichan Tribes expects a new and innovative pilot program will dramatically improve health care for its members.

Cowichan Tribes expects a new and innovative pilot program will dramatically improve health care for its members.

The 18-month program, announced in a ceremony at the Quw’utsun’ Cultural and Conference Centre on Tuesday, July 19, is called “Closing the Circle of Life”.

The program is expected to help improve the health of the approximately 400 members of Cowichan Tribes by providing them with secure and personalized access to their own electronic health records, and the ability to directly message their health-care providers online.

That means members of the First Nation will now be able to view all of their own medical records — whether they are from the community health nurse, a primary-care team, or family doctor — in a single file for the first time.

Terry Lake, B.C.’s Minister of Health, was at the ceremony and congratulated Cowichan Tribes on the initiative.

“We all know a gap exists between indigenous people and other Canadians [in regards to health care] and that gap must close,” Lake said.

“True leadership is being shown right here in the Cowichan Valley by the Cowichan Tribes who designed and are delivering this program for its people. I’m proud that the government has embraced this leadership and its foresight because the best way to create innovation is by empowering the people here.”

The new program is a partnership between Cowichan Tribes, Mustimuhw Information Solutions,

McKesson Canada and Canada Health Infoway.

Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour said he’s “excited” to speak with First Nations across the country about launching similar programs that increase access by their members to their medical records.

“Other First Nations in Canada are watching this program closely in their own efforts to improve the health of their members,” he said.

“But what we’ve accomplished is not limited to just First Nations either because we’ve created something that meets the needs of many people and communities. We should all be proud.”