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How to Evaluate Patient Portal Efficiency

Carrie Vaughan, for HealthLeaders Media, October 5, 2010

The software searches for gaps in care, such as a diabetic patient who has not seen his or her physician in more than a year. It then sends an automated message—voice messaging, text, or e-mail—that is from the physician or medical group asking the patient to contact his or her doctor. Physicians pay a monthly subscription fee for the service, which is based on the number of physicians rather than patient volumes.

The technology looks for things that the physician has ordered that have not been done or for services that are recommended, says Steve Schelhammer, Phytel's CEO. "We find the patients that are out of compliance and [have] fallen off the radar screen, and we motivate those patients to get back into the healthcare system so that they can get the appropriate care."

Riverside, which began using the technology roughly 10 months ago, focused its efforts on patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Currently, the software is only pulling data from Riverside's financial system, but the health system hopes to have data from its EMR and clinical systems included by the end of this year.  

Until then, Riverside is extracting data from its clinical system for Phytel to use. For example, Riverside shared mammography data that it pulls on a monthly basis for its physicians. The technology screened the data and sent automated messages to all the female patients aged 40—69 who had no record of a mammogram during the previous two years. 

Riverside set up a specific telephone number for the women to call so it could track how well the initiative was working. "We had more than 250 mammograms scheduled through that process," says Frazier, adding that they also identified patients whose EMR was incorrect and corrected the information.

Riverside is now working with the vendor to better communicate with its patients who have signed up for the health system's patient portal either electronically or via text message rather than by phone.

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