GE Healthcare Camden Group Insights Blog

Studies Find Patients with PHR Access are More Satisfied & Engaged

Posted by Matthew Smith on Apr 2, 2013 9:17:00 AM

Patient Engagement, EHRProviders who are worried about meeting the Stage 2 Meaningful Use patient engagement guidelines may be able to rest easier at night after reading the results of several recent studies showing just how enthusiastic patients are about accessing their personal health records (PHR).  Gone are the days of physician being sole arbiter of the clinical note: patients want to see what their providers are saying, and those who have the ability to do so are more informed, more engaged, and more positive about their healthcare and their lifestyle decisions.

new study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research shows that patients in the Veterans Affairs healthcare system are overwhelmingly positive about access to their personal health information, despite provider concerns that reading through a long list of test result numbers and clinical jargon with no explanation might be confusing or off-putting.  Patients reported being able to ask more informed questions after reviewing their results before a consult, feeling less stressed trying to remember what their providers had told them during an appointment, and being more likely to recall a follow up appointment when the information was accessible from a web portal.

“Doctors aren’t real gabby and they never tell you everything,” said one participant in a focus group. “Even if you ask questions, they’ll sort of slide around them.  They don’t have the time, you know.  I found stuff out that I was just amazed at, truly, about myself.”  Other participants noted that seeing what their doctors were saying about them was a wake-up call that prompted more responsibility and better everyday choices.  “I found the cholesterol and all that other stuff, and it made me start thinking about my lifestyle and how I needed to do a little bit more on my own and not depend on the doctor to hand me pills and stuff,” one patient acknowledged. “It encouraged me.  I knew more. I understood more.”

The VA’s patient portal, HealtheVet, was modified for the study to allow access to test results, lab reports, clinical and discharge notes, and vital signs.  Patients who reviewed this data made an effort to research medical information and figure out unknown terminology using the internet without having to ask a doctor or nurse in person, which some patients might be hesitant to do.

Online access also helped patients sift through everything their physician might have told them at their leisure, reducing the stress and agitation of having to memorize a slew of numbers and diagnoses before they leave the office.  “If they tell you something you don’t understand or you forget, because maybe it’s bad news or something, you go home and you really don’t remember. Somebody will say, ‘What did they tell you?’ Well, I don’t know, but if you go on HealtheVet, you can find it,” a patient added.

“Just knowing is better than not knowing, I think, in most things in life,” another participant said. “Because you can imagine a lot of stuff in your health world.  Is this a pimple or am I dying of cancer? You go through that whole thing.  So, just knowing, just being able to review that and say, ‘Okay, I’m not dying of cancer. That’s a pimple,’ gave me peace of mind.”

Topics: EHR, EMR, Meaningful Use, Medicare, Patient Involvement, Patient Engagement, Stage 2

Free Webinar to Ease Anxiety About Meaningful Use Stage 2

Posted by Matthew Smith on Mar 22, 2013 10:22:00 AM

Webinar, Stage 2 Meaningful UseA good many family physicians have implemented electronic health records (EHRs) in their practices and are working diligently to meet meaningful use stage one requirements established by the federal government.

Meanwhile, meaningful use stage two requirements -- already defined and poised to take effect in mid-2014 -- lurk on the horizon. 

To help physicians get up-to-speed with meaningful use stage two requirements, TransforMED's Delta-Exchange network is offering a free webinar titled "Meaningful Use Stage 2: Second Wave or Tsunami?" on March 27 at 1 p.m. CDT. 

The webinar will be hosted by Jason Mitchell, M.D., director of the AAFP Center for Health IT. An archived version will be maintained on the TransforMED website. 

"We're currently in the middle of stage one, so family physicians need to keep doing what they're doing to comply with the regulations. But they need to begin preparations for meaningful use stage two by the middle of this year," says Mitchell. "It's more than just installing an upgrade on your computer."

The upcoming webinar creates an opportunity for Mitchell to ease family physicians' concerns about compliance with additional -- and sometimes confusing -- regulations. "Stage two can be pretty overwhelming because it includes all of stage one with more added on," says Mitchell. "I want to put the information that family physicians need to know in a context they can get their heads around."

One of the most challenging new elements in stage two is the emphasis on patient participation. "Stage two really focuses on getting patients involved, and there are specific requirements that only patients can fulfill," says Mitchell. He intends to, among other things, show physicians how to encourage patient engagement in this process. 

Mitchell has extensive expertise in health information technology and is more than qualified to guide family physicians through the meaningful use maze. In addition to serving as the AAFP's point person for issues related to medical office automation and computerization, he has counseled countless AAFP members about EHR selection, implementation and optimization. 

Mitchell maintains membership in a number of health IT-focused organizations and, in 2004, founded a company named mPOWER Medical Informatics to help maximize the efficiency and accuracy of health IT applications in clinical practice settings. 

First and foremost a family physician, Mitchell also provides primary care access to uninsured adult patients at the Jackson County Free Health Clinic in Independence, Mo.

Topics: EHR, EMR, Meaningful Use, Medicare, Patient Involvement, Patient Engagement, Stage 2

eClinicalWorks to Spend $25M on Patient Engagement, Including New App

Posted by Matthew Smith on Feb 11, 2013 11:18:00 AM

EHR, mobile app, patient engagementEMR provider eClinicalWorks announced they are investing $25 million in patient engagement, including the creation of a new mobile app for patients. The Westborough, MA-based company already offers a patient portal to their EMR, but the new business unit and app, called Healow (short for Health and Online Wellness), will expand on that offering considerably.

“In order to transform healthcare, patients need to be engaged,” Girish Kumar Navani, CEO and co-founder of eClinicalWorks said in a statement. “People are invested in and want to be engaged in their health as long as they trust the source of the information.”

Due out in the iOS AppStore February 11th (and in the Google Play store at some point thereafter), the Healow app will connect users directly to their own patient health records. The app will allow users to access multiple providers’ patient portals from a single secure app; manage medications by scheduling doses, tracking pills, and requesting refills; gain access to lab results and personal health records; schedule appointment reminders; and exchange secure messages with doctors.

Founded in 1999, eClinicalWorks has been a long-standing EMR provider. The company counts some 220,000 healthcare providers among their user base, including the National Football League, with whom they signed an agreement late last year.

Meaningful Use Stage 2 guidelines, which go into affect starting in 2014, require not only that hospitals make electronic access to health records available to patients, but also that at least 5 percent of patients log in and use the online portal. The guidelines require that users be able to “view, download, and transmit” their health data and the Office of the National Coordinator, through its Blue Button Plus initiative, has openly encouraged companies to fulfill this requirement via apps.

In addition to the app launch, the company announced the results of a survey of 649 physicians. They found that 93% of physicians surveyed believe mobile health apps can lead to better patient outcomes and 89% said they were likely to recommend a mobile app to a patient. Nearly 33% cited medication adherence as a major area where mobile interventions could make a difference. Just over 50% cited diabetes and preventative care as key impact areas for mobile health.

The eClinicalWorks’ survey also found:

  • The top benefits for having a mobile health app feed data back into a patient’s electronic health record physicians cited are:

    • Nearly six in ten physicians (58%) said a top benefit was the ability to provide patients with automatic appointment alerts and reminders. In fact, 60% of physicians also said that at least half of their patients would be interested in appointment reminders via a mobile app;

    • Nearly 50% of physicians cited a patient’s access to medical records is a top benefit; and

    • The ease of scheduling appointments.

  • And the top three health issues where a mobile health application linked to an EHR could make an impact:

    • Nearly two thirds said medication adherence is a top health issue in which a mobile health app linked to EHR could make an immediate impact; and

    • More than half said diabetes (54%) and preventative care (52%).

      Electronic Health Records EHR Assessment

Topics: EHR, Patient Involvement, Patient Engagement, Patient Experience, Patient Satisfaction, eClinicalWorks, Mobile Health

7 Ways to Improve Patient Engagement in the Age of the EHR

Posted by Matthew Smith on Jan 31, 2013 3:32:00 PM

EHR, Patient Engagement, Health IT,

A common criticism of EHR use in medical practices is that it causes doctors to become less engaged and impersonal. This causes frustration for all parties--patients and physicians--because doctors didn’t sign up for computer duty and patients expect a doctor’s full attention during visits.

Software Advice, a website that reviews medical software, recently completed a survey on how to improve doctor-patient interactions in the EHR era. They listed the top seven tips received on maintaining quality relationships.

1. Position your computer between the physician and the patient

Face the patient during interactions. Take the time to plan where your equipment will go so that this possible.

2. Invest in mobility

Whether it’s a small rolling desk, small tablets or other lightweight tools, choose equipment that helps you move around. A laptop may be worth the investment.

3. Delegate as much as possible

The objective is to interact with the patient as much as possible. Have staff members enter the medical history, medications, prior procedures, etc. prior to the patient’s visit so you don’t have to during the appointment.

4. Dictate as much as possible

Talk with the patient while scribes enter the information or use dictation software. These allow you to focus more on the patient.

5. Ignore the computer when you first enter the room

Chat with your patient for a few minute before you start recording information in the digital record.

6. Ask about previous complaints

If the patient information is pre-loaded, look over it  before entering the room. If they have open complaints, ask them about the issues to close them out in the emr. This reaffirms to the patient that you care.

7. Finish the chart in the room

This can help to answer any other questions that might come up so patients feel like they have been listened to.

EHRs take some getting used to. Once a physician develops a rhythm with the software, every patient interaction becomes easier. 

Electronic Health Records EHR Assessment
7 Ways to Improve Patient Engagement courtesy of Software Advice.

Topics: EHR, Patient Involvement, Practice Management, Patient Engagement, Stage 2 Meaningful Use

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