Portals the first step to engage patients, deliver care at Novant

Portal use has been a key to increasing patient engagement and ensuring successful population health efforts at Novant Health.

The four-state integrated network of physician clinics, outpatient centers and hospitals has been offering portals since 2011 and was one of the first in the country to have 100,000 patients using the technology to look at their medical records, says Keith Griffin, MD, chief medical information officer at Lakeside Primary Care in Concord, N.C.

That effort to get consumers engaged has continued, he said at an educational session at this week’s annual conference of the Medical Group Management Association, held in Boston.

“The portal program is part of our DNA,” he says. “We did a big push with our primary care physicians to make sure patients are on the portal, and this has become part of our culture. That’s helped us to grow the program.”

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Currently, Novant says 875,000 of its patients are registered to access their records via the MyChart portal from Epic. Of those, 42 percent of patients are active users, and 85 percent of medical test results and records are posted to the portals.

The system also has developed other ways of reaching patients to inform them of health tests they should schedule. For example, it sends out “birthday letters,” appearing to come from patients’ primary care physicians, with reminders about health services and tests that would be appropriate for them—such as a colonoscopy at age 50—or annual wellness exams to which they may be entitled.

“We’ve made it easier for patients to address their needs,” added Ryan Neaves, director of IT applications at Novant Health Lakeside Primary Care. “We can offer an e-visit for patients, and that has really made it a more cohesive experience for them.”

The efforts to engage patients has paid off, Griffin said. “One of our biggest success stories is we get thousands of thousands of patient messages through the portal. Instead of calling them in, patients are able to connect via the portal.”

Patient information enables the organization to segment populations into about 70 registries, enabling individualized services that enable specialized and individualized services.

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