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VCU Health

Survey shows VCU Health’s patients are more involved with their health care through the patient portal

In February 2016, the team at Virginia Commonwealth University Health Care Systems (VCU Health) was getting ready to launch a survey to their patients currently enrolled in their HealtheLifeSM patient portal to see if the solution, and the use of OpenNotes, were really as useful as they had hoped.

After three months had passed, the team at VCU Health was very relieved to have collected overwhelmingly positive responses from a surprisingly large group of their patient users.

Around 1,500 responses had been collected from patients since the survey launched. Over 80 percent of those responding patients said the portal helps them to take better care of themselves.

“The patients should own the data,” said Deborah Burgett, RN, director at VCU Health. “Family should have access to this data. This can help keep the patient safe.”

The survey asked patients about their experiences with using OpenNotes, a tool that gives patients access to the notes written by their physicians during visits.

Nearly 76 percent of patients knew they could see their notes if they wanted to; 25 percent of those patients view a note more thanonce after a visit.

Other results from the survey provided answers to some of the questions and concerns that the team at VCU Health had when making the decision to implement OpenNotes in July 2015.

One concern, for example, was if the patient would understand the terminology of physicians’ notes. With help of OpenNotes’ FAQs and abbreviations, the results showed that a majority of patients understood either most or all of their notes.

The survey did shed some light on opportunities for improvement, which focused on the need to update data accurately and timely: weight, age, height. This was commonly found in pediatrics since children needed information updated more regularly as they grew.

“Bad comments helped make us better,” said Burgett. “The overall response we received from patients was that they were very happy to be more involved in their health care.”

As the patient portal continues to evolve with the help of patient engagement, the solution is becoming one of the best methods of practicing medicine for the team at VCU Health.

“The Patient Portal has completely changed the way I practice medicine,” said Dr. Susan Wolver, physician at VCU Health. “I know all kinds of care that has been transformed by the patient portal.”

Virginia Commonwealth University Health Care Systems, an urban tertiary care medical center and teaching hospital based in Richmond, Va., partnered with Cerner in 2011 to implement their patient portal with just two patients registered. Now there are more than 60,000 patients registered.

More information regarding this story can be found here.

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Client outcomes were achieved in respective settings and are not representative of benefits realized by all clients due to many variables, including solution scope, client capabilities and business and implementation models.