Despite requirements mandated by Meaningful Use Stage 1, providers are still hesitant to actively share their medical records with all of their patients – they possibly fear trouble with law suits. But I’ve met doctors not only are able to share their records with patients confidently (because the records are not templated and the care is thorough) and even get patients to participate actively in managing their health. Patients tend to respond by understanding their conditions better and I’ve noticed that they proactively rate such doctors highly on forums such as healthgrades.com. Going beyond such benefits, there are also business benefits by engaging patients over the Internet. Using a well-functioning patient portal, ambulatory surgery centers can save time for themselves.
Invite patients to use a patient portal – a common area that providers can share medical records, including lab results, medications, operative notes and so on. Once patients use the portal regularly, have them periodically track and document basic vital signs such as BMI, blood pressure, insulin readings. Have them complete checklists, scoring sheets (e.g. such as a Crohn’s Disease Activity Index), manage their demographic information, scan driving license or update photographs. This would save enormous amount of time for the front desk and nursing staff of the surgery center or medical practice. As a doctor, explore having virtual meetings for return visits through the patient portal. Your patients would greatly appreciate the time you’d save them by willing to have a virtual conversation.
The next logical step for the surgery center would be to actively monitor care across groups of patients via a dashboard that collates data from the patient portal. Using such information, clinical staff can track health across a group of patients and when things seem to deviate from the norm (e.g. high BP for 3 continuous days), then the practice can call the patient to schedule a check-up proactively, even before they fall sick. This reverses the expectation that patients need to call a doctor after they fall sick.
By Praveen Suthrum, President & Co-Founder, NextServices