HAMILTON, Ont. – An active family leadership program has enabled the patient and family portal to exceed expected enrollment at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, in Toronto. After the ‘connect2care’ portal was launched in December of 2014, “We actively enrolled inpatients, outpatients and community clients, whenever they were available,” said Amir Karmali (pictured, right), a family integrated care specialist at Holland Bloorview and the father of a Holland Bloorview client.
Moreover, the team used a mobile cart to educate clients and families and enroll them as users of the patient portal. “We didn’t wait for people to come to us,” said Karmali. “We went to them to explain how the portal would benefit them.
Karmali spoke at the recent Apps for Health 2015 conference, held at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ont., along with his colleague, Joanne Maxwell (pictured, left), clinical adoption program manager at Holland Bloorview.
Karmali said that 350 families were targeted to be online by July of this year, but as of May, more than 400 had joined.
He added that 700 families were expected to be online by December, but it looks like that figure will be surpassed, as well.
Maxwell noted that the portal offers many benefits to families, and once they become aware of them, they’re likely to sign on.
She held up a thick, three-ringed binder of information, and explained, “One family was using one of these to keep track of their child’s records. Another dedicated an entire filing cabinet drawer to keeping records. But the portal gives online access to the client’s records, so they no longer need to do that.”
The portal is integrated with the hospital’s Meditech electronic health record system, and Meditech was also the supplier of the portal module. “It’s really user-friendly,” said Maxwell. “It’s one of their best modules.”
Holland Bloorview chose the Meditech Patient Portal after issuing an RFP last year and evaluating different options. The cost of the project is about $800,000 and is assisted by Canada Health Infoway.
Currently, the portal gives users access to a range of electronic reports, the client’s upcoming appointments and visit history. Two-way secure messaging, between clients and their caregivers, is now being added.
The team is also expanding the range of records that can be accessed by clients and families, by integrating documents from different databases.
And it is implementing the ability to request and cancel appointments. “Appointment scheduling and reminders have delivered huge value, right from the start,” said Maxwell.
Maxwell noted the portal has meant a major change for clients and families, but also for care providers. They now have to be more aware that when charting, it’s not just for the benefit of other clinicians, but also for the families. As such, literacy becomes more important. “The portal is driving transparency,” said Maxwell.
Holland Bloorview is conducting a study to evaluate the impact of the portal. It will evaluate the effects on communication and patient engagement, and provide data for future enhancements and improvements.