Health Wellness
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A smartphone app developed at the McGill University Health Centre is empowering patients by helping them monitor their own medical information. Through the Opal app, patients can easily check into their appointments, view their lab results, and see their own clinical notes.

The patient portal app, which won a provincial health innovation award, allows patients to have access to their data—blood tests, appointments, x-rays—right at their fingertips. Physicians can reach out to patients directly with questionnaires related to their health, and there is no more waiting around for an appointment.

“As someone who has been blogging about my journey for almost six years now, the number one advice I give other patients is to be your own advocate,” says Nalie Agustin, a breast cancer patient who is currently using the app. “This app has been such an amazing tool to do so.”

“To have everything that I normally do manually through the app in the palm of my hand has been so efficient and effective.”

Nalie also says the app has relieved a lot of anxiety during an otherwise anxious time in her life.

The creation of the app was inspired Laurie Hendren, one of the project co-leads. Laurie was a breast cancer patient and a computer science professor at McGill University. She paired up with Dr. Tarek Hijal, and medical physicist Dr. John Kildea, to try and come up with a way to improve the experience of patients—she felt that wait times were a big issue for her, as well as not having access to her own data. Thus, the idea for Opal was born.

So, where does the team hope to take Opal in the future? We spoke with Dr. Tarek Hijal and Nalie Agustin to find out. You can watch their interview in the video clip above.