Hospital patients can view test results [The Salina Journal, Kan. :: ]
(Salina Journal (KS) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 30--Salina Regional portal allows patients online access to their records
When Larry Barnes had an MRI on his knee, he didn't have to wait to see his doctor to view the results of the joint scan.
"Even before I saw my physician and talked to him about it, I got online and could read the report myself," Barnes said.
He did the same after a physical.
"I went online and pulled up my own lab results," he said.
Barnes is vice president and chief information officer for Salina Regional Health Center, but this access to medical records isn't reserved for hospital personnel.
Any hospital patient with an email address has been able to have the same access since April, when a "Patient Portal" became the latest device added to the hospital's technology medical bag.
"The portal allows patients themselves to go in and view certain items on their health records," said Kelly Lippold, the hospital's applications manager.
The portal is part of the Affordable Care Act's electronic medical records mandate. Salina Regional has finished the first of three stages that must be completed by 2016.
'Most Wired Hospital'
Completing the first phase in a timely manner earned the facility "Most Wired Hospital" status, bestowed by Hospitals & Health Networks magazine for meeting goals in information technology, administrative management, clinical quality and safety and clinical integration.
Salina Regional was one of 375 hospitals in the country and one of four in Kansas to be so recognized.
Having access to one's medical records isn't something new. Before April, hospital patients could get their records, but they had to rely on shoe leather and penmanship: a personal visit to the hospital and completion of innumerable paper forms.
"They would actually have to come to the hospital, wait usually three days or so, to get all the printouts," Lippold said.
Few would go to the trouble, she said.
"Most people would wait until their primary care doctor called them with those results," she said. "This is more immediate."
Results within hours
Except for radiology procedures, which take 72 hours for staff to view the findings, most results are posted within hours, said Kallie Burgardt, director of health information management.
"Before, if you were a patient and requested records, there would be a cost associated with those records," Burgardt said. "We provided the first 10 pages for free. After that, you had to pay for your records. Now, you don't have to do that."
The portal gives patients more than test results. They are able to see upcoming appointments and may message their doctor.
When the hospital shopped for a system, the goal was to find one that was easy to navigate and economical.
"We were looking for something that was fairly simple, fairly straightforward and didn't need a degree in computers to use it," Barnes said.
Secure and easy to use
Security also was high on the wish list. The hospital believes the electronic system protects privacy much better than when it relied on paper.
"People forget when we had paper records, paperwork got lost, it was left around, it was misfiled," Barnes said. "Anybody could pick up a paper record and read it. You couldn't tell who read it or who hadn't read it. With our system now, we have very extensive audit capabilities."
Each patient has a unique code and password.
"It's only open to those patients," said Mike McEldowney, director of information services. "This is the patients' information. You need to give them access to it. The only way you can see it is through the portal."
Unless patients give out their passwords, no one should be able to access their files.
"Just because you're a nurse doesn't mean you have access to every record," Barnes said.
Patients may access their records from the hospital's website, srhc.com. In the upper right, in the blue bar, they select "my health portal." The ID code and password also will allow patients to access records from SRHC Physician Practice Management, Salina Regional Surgical Associates, Salina Women's Clinic, Salina Regional Emergency Physicians, The Heart Center, Salina Regional Neurosciences, Salina Regional Neurosurgery, Salina Regional Oncology, Hospitalist Services, Veridian Behavioral Health and Lindsborg Community Hospital.
Other providers have or will have their own system and set of passwords.
"The point of the whole thing is that it empowers patients to have a more active role in their own health, to help manage their own health," said John Berggren, public relations coordinator. "You don't have to wait for a doctor's appointment a week from Thursday to figure out what your next step is."
--Gordon D. Fiedler Jr. can be reached at 822-1407 or by email at email@example.com.
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