Emory Healthcare Takes Data-Driven Approach to Improving Patient Portal

During a recent webinar, OpenNotes Director of Dissemination John Santa, MD, MPH, spoke with several informatics executives at Atlanta’s Emory Healthcare about their work to improve the health system’s three patient portals.

The executives described their efforts to deploy a “portal scorecard” to identify and patch weaknesses in the portals. The scorecard asked health systems to note whether their patient portal has certain features or not. Those features included availability of lab results; notes and visit details; prescription renewals and refills; medication summaries; and viewing, scheduling, and getting reminders about upcoming appointments.

First, the team researched what patients want. Surveys and research reports showed that patients find personalized content that helps with disease management, including secure messaging and lab results, to be most valuable. Patients also expressed strong interest in simple design and ease of registration and login, with tech support available any time the need should arise. Then, in 2017, they ran their patient portal through the scorecard, and used that scorecard assessment as a tool to drive their strategic action plan.

The implementation took several years because some of the elements listed in the score card were under Emory’s control, and some were under the control of Cerner, the health system’s electronic health record system. The team also moved toward narrowing the patient experience down to one portal rather than three.

Fiscal 2020 initiatives include release of pathology results, integrating an online scheduling solution designed by Kyruus, and piloting the use of OpenNotes software. With these modifications, Emory’s overall portal score went from 63 percent of the desired features in 2017 to 92 percent once the 2020 improvements are finalized.

When it comes to scheduling appointments online, patients want it to be easy and they want to be matched with the right provider at the right time. The Kyruus ProviderMatch platform enables health systems to optimize patient-provider matching, boosts patient acquisition and conversion, and delivers a consistent patient experience across key points of access.

OpenNotes provides free tools and resources that help clinicians and health care systems share notes with patients. The platform is designed to encourage doctors, nurses, therapists, and others to read the notes they write to describe a visit.

“You have to be looking at how [the patient portal] will improve patient outcomes,” said patient advocate Rosie Bartel. “I am a better patient when I have good information.”

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