May 7, 2015

Initiative seeks to boost My Health at Vanderbilt usage

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is stepping up promotion of its secure online patient portal and electronic medical record, My Health at Vanderbilt (MHAV).

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is stepping up promotion of its secure online patient portal and electronic medical record, My Health at Vanderbilt (MHAV).

MHAV was launched in 2006 to support patient engagement with Vanderbilt medical care. It gives patients secure health team messaging, lab results, vaccine records and consumer health information. Patients can also use the portal to request clinic appointments and complete clinic intake forms.

Members of the VUMC leadership team want to see more patients using the portal. In fiscal year 2014 MHAV had more than 44,000 new registrants and 142,000 unique users, but VUMC hospitals and clinics saw more than 535,000 unique patients.

“New portal functionality that’s now in the works should attract more users to MHAV. But our more direct solution for boosting registration will be to enlist the help of some admittedly already very busy clinic staff,” said Trent Rosenbloom, M.D., MPH, associate professor of Biomedical Informatics, Medicine and Pediatrics. He directs the development of MHAV.

“Starting in adult clinics, we’re asking patient services representatives (PSRs,) to check with each patient whether they want to register,” Rosenbloom said.

If the answer is yes, then, having checked the patient’s photo I.D., the PSR selects a box in the electronic medical record to bring up a form for recording the patient’s email address. MHAV then automatically sends an email to the patient to spark online completion of the brief registration process.

MHAV registration started in adult clinics in February but it has yet to achieve consistent results. To support the change, MHAV flyers and brochures will be posted in clinics, Rosenbloom will take a MHAV enrollment presentation around to the clinics, and clinic managers will receive periodic reports on the performance of their MHAV registration efforts.

“There’s no real substitute for good patient engagement, and it would be difficult to overstate its potential benefits,” said Paul Sternberg Jr., M.D., chief patient experience and service officer for VUMC and chief medical officer of Vanderbilt Medical Group. Sternberg also leads the Patient Engagement Steering Committee.

“The patient who understands the stakes, who grasps the chief components and goals of the care plan and any essential ingredients for a good outcome, and who is prepared for any common practical barriers that may lie in the way — that patient’s odds of a good outcome are simply apt to be vastly better than they might otherwise be.

“My Health at Vanderbilt can play an important role in supporting smooth coordination of care and optimal interaction between care teams and patients. We have already seen this for our patients who are engaged with MHAV. But for that to be effective from a population health perspective, it’s first necessary for us to boost patient registration on the portal,” Sternberg said.

Meanwhile, lawmakers and major health care payers have in recent years instituted incentives for providers to help patients avoid expensive acute-care episodes, and MHAV has been seen as the sort of tool that can help Vanderbilt teams achieve this goal.

MHAV also figures in VUMC efforts to achieve federal incentives for adoption of electronic medical record technology. (For providers to earn this incentive, at least half of their patients must be instructed that they can access their medical record electronically, and at least one of their patients must sometime during the year access the record electronically.)

The new enrollment effort will expand to pediatric clinics later this month, with a focus on registering parents of children age 12 and younger.