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Published on December 15, 2020

Local advisory panel weighs in on patient portal

PFAC MyChart

If the Cape Cod Healthcare Patient Family Advisory Council is any indication, most health consumers are likely to sign up for the new patient portal that was rolled out on Nov. 1, 2020. In a polling session earlier this year, the majority of the Council, known as PFAC, said they would start using the portal to manage their healthcare.

Council member Rosemarie Resnik has been using the Cape Cod Healthcare (CCHC) patient portal, known as MyChart, and is enthusiastic about the ways it has improved her healthcare experiences.

“What I absolutely love about it is that, I just had my annual doctor’s appointment and I loved the fact that I could go in and look at test results before I met with the doctor,” she said. “I feel I’m more informed about my health and can ask the doctor questions that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do.”

The PFAC is a roughly 2,000-member panel of residents who have agreed to receive occasional questionnaires from a company called Market Street Research, Inc., on behalf of CCHC. The group is comprised of a cross-section of ages, genders and socioeconomic backgrounds, according to Stephanie Gonthier, president of Market Street Research, which has been doing business with CCHC since 2013. About 15-30 percent of PFAC members typically participate in any given survey, she said.

The information gleaned from PFAC questionnaires gives CCHC a sense of how the general public would feel about any given initiative CCHC considers. In this case, CCHC officials wanted to gauge the feelings of the group on the new patient portal.

Cape Cod Healthcare launched the new patient portal, which is powered by the Epic System, the nation’s premier healthcare information systems vendor, on Nov. 1, 2020. In doing so, not only are the local physicians’ offices now connected, but they also have access to patient visit information collected across other Epic-installed health systems outside of CCHC.

At the center of the system is MyChart, a feature-rich electronic health record accessible to patients and their healthcare providers. There are benefits for each. Having a single patient record enables patients’ doctors to have a broader picture of their health status, as sharing notes is now done automatically. This is especially important for those with chronic conditions, like congestive heart failure, diabetes, and COPD.

Having all of this important information in a single place ensures that any changes in health status, treatments and medications, among others, are immediately recognized and accounted for.

Before her recent annual physical appointment, Resnik was able to access her routine test results that had been ordered prior to the visit. When she saw that her Vitamin D level had dropped from last year, she went into the appointment armed with questions for the doctor. In the past, when the results were given to her during the appointment, she said she did not feel as prepared to review and ask pertinent questions.

“(The portal) gives the patient the ability to be more included in their healthcare, and to be able to ask informed questions,” she said.

Resnik also arranged to have access to her 90-year-old mother’s portal information, which keeps her informed and enables her to help her mother manage her healthcare, she said.

“It’s one-stop shopping,” she said.

Other information gathered from PFAC members in the questionnaire included:

  • Most members of the council have experience with patient portals and use them at least occasionally.
  • Overall interest in using patient portals is high, particularly for accessing personal health information, such as test results, and communicating/sharing information across multiple providers.
  • Over half of PFAC patients said that using MyChart by Epic would strengthen their image of Cape Cod Healthcare, knowing that other major hospitals also use this platform.
  • Most patients were interested in using a patient portal and they liked the idea of using the portal to communicate with various providers.

The majority of the PFAC, 68 percent, found using the patient portal to share information across providers “very appealing.” Sixty-nine percent of the group said they were “very likely” to sign up for the portal.

“The more informed people are about its easy access, and how all of the information is at your fingertips, and how anyone can do it, people will be using it more and more,” said Resnik.