Empowering the patient by engaging in health care information technology

By Parhez Sattar, senior director of information technology at Grande Ronde Hospital September 18, 2013 08:57 am
Celebrate National Health Information Technology Week with us this week. This nationwide event provides an opportunity to showcase how Grande Ronde Hospital’s technology efforts allow our patients and their health care providers to benefit from the rapidly evolving world of health care information technologies. 

HIT has moved beyond the basic implementation projects of the past to include best practices in health care delivery while leveraging complicated software systems designed to provide support for meaningful and timely clinical decisions and reduce errors, while also improving patient communications and the delivery of high quality care. 

Today, medical information no longer resides only with the doctor, but belongs also to the patient. More than ever before, health care is patient-centered. At Grande Ronde Hospital, we believe that engaging patients in their own health care decisions is crucial to providing the best care possible. Our HIT team has a significant role in this because increasing patient engagement includes an increasing number of ePatients — consumers who use their computers, tablets and smartphones to manage their health care, including their health records and history by using these digital tools. 

These ePatients will help drive improved physician workflow efficiency, patient safety and overall quality of care. This new empowered consumer-patient continues to seek the “high quality, affordable access” to health care they have consistently demanded of us, but they are also savvier in taking control and managing their health care data. In essence, our HIT team becomes another member of your local care team by facilitating the standard you have come to expect at GRH through our implementation of Patient Portals and Personal Health Records.

Health care is patient-centered and consumer-empowered 

Along with international HIT efforts, the GRH system’s transition to Electronic Medical Records and Electronic Health Records at our physician offices, clinics and hospital has made available a mature, dependable bank of patient health care data. Technology is now able to focus on PHRs to meet the demand of those patients who want to be better informed and more engaged. 

PHRs enable patients to control and manage a personal, but mobile, collection of portable data fed from different electronic and non-electronic sources. PHRs allow patients to input personal health information and past medical history to which providers may not have ready access. Patients can then share that stored information with a provider at home or anywhere in the country. 

Grande Ronde Hospital is investing into a community-based solution for an independent third-party platform that will provide such capabilities for health care consumers in the region. Powered by one of the largest vendors in the world, RelayHealth, our PHR is accessed as MyHealth from the Grande Ronde Hospital website — www.grh.org — for the Grande Ronde Valley and its surrounding areas. MyHealth is available for all GRH system patients, as well as for any other interested independent providers within our communities; and we have already covered any subscription and development costs for those independents who want to join.

MyHealth already allows patients to securely message their provider and care team, improving patient-provider communications. MyHealth also allows patients to request appointments, prescription refills, view diagnostic testing results and manage your personal health record. MyHealth will soon be adding detailed financial statements to the online bill pay capability that already exists on our website. 

Mobile health care is future of care delivery

The mobile health market will continue to disrupt and create new business models, eventually leading to improved access to care, patient engagement and greater consumer satisfaction. Patient providers are increasingly using tablets as their preferred mobile device, primarily due to the ready access of EHRs, drug reference materials, and a host of valuable data that in the past was only available in the office. Thanks to advances in telemedicine, physical proximity to one’s health care provider is not necessary in many cases. Physicians in some areas are already able to provide quality health care via “e-visits” — also known as digital house calls in the outpatient setting or tele-presence in the inpatient setting. E-visits have the potential to improve the efficiency of patient care while containing costs. 

Health care Information Technology is a very important component of any modern health care environment. The more we embrace it, the better off we will be as consumers of the services, and the better we will be able to engage in our own health care.

 

My Voice

Parhez Sattar, 42, of La Grande is the senior director of information technology at Grande Ronde Hospital. Parhez serves on the Oregon Health Authority’s Health Information Technology Task Force and is a member of the national organization Health Information Management Systems Society.

My Voice columns should be 500 to 700 words. Submissions should include a portrait-type photograph of the author. Authors also should include their full name, age, occupation and relevant organizational memberships. 

Send columns to La Grande Observer, 1406 Fifth St., La Grande, Ore., 97850, fax them to 541-963-7804 or email them to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it