It took Kristy Dickinson almost seven years, numerous appointments with health-care providers and multiple failed treatment plans to be diagnosed with a complex, rare disease.

“Navigating the Canadian health-care system as a person living with a complex illness often feels like a full-time job,” said Dickinson, managing director for Chronically Simple, during Benefits Canada’s 2021 Tech Insights conference in January.

“Because our health-care system is siloed and communication between specialists is challenging in the best of times, the onus very often falls on the patient or the caregiver to manage everything and ensure every specialist has access to all of our health-care information that they need to make accurate treatment decisions.”

Dickinson struggled to organize her personal information, test results, appointment notes and medications. Speaking with friends in similar situations, she found they were also working with binders or file folders, so after searching for a one-stop-shop digital solution with no results, she built one herself.

Chronically Simple is a secure web platform and mobile app that allows patients and caregivers to manage their health-care information in a centralized location. It can also store documents for multiple patients within the same family. “It removes the administrative complexities associated with living with a chronic illness or disability, so that our users can focus on what they should be focused on, which is feeling better,” she said.

The program tracks symptoms, medications and expenses and keeps on top of any applications that need to be submitted. She said by having this information in one place, patients and caregivers feel more empowered to take an active role in their health-care journey and advocate for themselves or their loved ones.

According to the 2020 Sanofi Canada health-care survey, 70 per cent of the Canadian workforce lives with at least one chronic condition or chronic pain. In addition, Statistics Canada found roughly 50 per cent of the Canadian population has reported caring for an aging, ill or disabled family member, possibly in addition to caring for themselves.

“With the pandemic … your workforce is now managing their employment responsibilities [and] their families, perhaps navigating virtual education for their children and potentially caring for a loved one who’s living with a complex chronic illness or disability.”

The platform provides plan sponsors with aggregate data insights to identify claims trends and a high-level overview of what their workforce is navigating. It can also integrate with Apple Health and Google Fit to offer an even-richer data set on users’ day-to-day life and external, environmental factors that could impact their health, Dickinson said.

“This data will help you improve your benefits plans for your organization while ensuring employee confidentiality is never compromised.”