Some seniors say B.C.’s latest initiative on personal health records is leaving them behind. The province’s Health Gateway is a single place for residents to access their records, COVID-19 test results, and immunization records. However, to access it, you must download the BC Service Card mobile app.
“Someone is making assumptions that for some reason, mobile apps are the answer to everything,” said Don Robinson. Robinson, who is a senior and visually impaired, told Global News that he’s managed to enter the digital age successfully, but is perplexed as to why a mobile app is needed to access his personal health records.
The province has said that a person can access Health Gateway through their mobile device or through a desktop computer that’s paired with their mobile device. But Robinson said none of the iOS devices he owns will run the app because the operating systems are too old.
“I think they should just consult with people more than they do. I think there’s too much assuming and making assumptions that don’t stand up to scrutiny. If they asked the right people, the right people would tell them where they are going off track,” he said.
In response to a request for comment, the Ministry of Health told Global News’s Consumer Matters it is aware that people are having trouble accessing Health Gateway through the BC Services Card app.
“We’re working to improve the way that people can easily obtain their COVID immunization records and there will be more information on what this will look like in the near future,” the ministry said.
The province has also said the app is needed because it can require a robust identity verification process for privacy reasons and avoid security risks around sensitive and personal information.
Still, one cybersecurity expert said that while having extra layers of security is encouraging, the fact that Health Gateway is not accessible to everyone is a concern.
“I’m happy the province has made this app available for those that can use it – it works great,” said a cybersecurity specialist at Sophos, Chester Wisniewski. “The question is why are there no alternatives available for people who are unable to access it? They certainly could have done better.”
When it comes to having a record of COVID-19 vaccinations, the province has said that if a person doesn’t have access to Health Gateway, they may obtain a paper copy or a vaccination card that is given to them when they are vaccinated.