November 29, 2023Read More
Improving the patient experience by making it easy for patients to access all their personal health records and information — including diagnostic imaging results — in one place.
When Mackenzie Health decided to launch its MyChart patient portal in 2017, they knew the technology held the potential to transform the way healthcare is delivered in its community. By becoming the first Canadian hospital to sign on for Epic Systems’ full-suite electronic medical record (EMR), Mackenzie Health was staying true to its core vision of leveraging technology and innovation to provide world-class care that better serves the needs of its patients.
Their vision of saving the hospital valuable time and resources by providing a single point of access for patients to register, check-in and access their health data had one significant stumbling block: diagnostic imaging. The hospital had no way to easily share diagnostic imaging with patients, who still had to travel to the hospital in person to collect their imaging on antiquated CD-ROMs. That meant fighting for limited parking (and the cost of parking!), paying $10 per CD and waiting for their imaging — a process that undermined the exponential gains the hospital had made in other areas. COVID-19 was an additional challenge for patients who were hesitant to come to the hospital during lockdowns to obtain their results..
“Wherever they’re going — their specialist or another provider — it’s always, ‘bring a CD of your images,’” says Mary Thorne, Coordinator of Health Information Management Services & MyChart Projects at Mackenzie Health. “You’re probably spending more money and time than you would want just to get these images on a CD.”
Mackenzie Health realized that the lack of easy access to diagnostic imaging, if not addressed, would undermine much of what the multi-site hospital, which serves a community of more than 500,000 patients, was trying to do. “The whole purpose is for patients to be in control of their own health,” says Mary. “And be empowered to make their own decisions by being informed with the right information in the right place and at the right time.”
PocketHealth for Patients, integrated into MyChart, to provide patients with a single sign-on experience and ownership over medical imaging as part of overall access to health information.
During the two-year period required to build and implement the new EMR, Mackenzie Health decided to address the gap in imaging access by partnering with PocketHealth.
ICAT experts from the hospital, Epic and PocketHealth worked together to embed functionality into MyChart. And now, patients can access PocketHealth via their MyChart account, making it easy to securely view and share their imaging results from within MyChart. Patients can also share their imaging with only a few clicks or make requests for any imaging results other providers may have in their possession.
This seamless integration allows Mackenzie Health to provide patients with a single point of release for all their health records. It also includes a standalone option for patients who may not have a MyChart account to quickly access imaging results from PocketHealth.
“The team was fantastic with the integration,” Thorne says. “Usually, this type of integration can be quite challenging being the first in Canada to implement PocketHealth in this way, but the team worked very well together. Now, instead of telling patients to come in, we recommend that they sign up to MyChart. For a reduced fee, they can access their images online, view them or share them with whomever they wish. When you come here in person, you get that one set of images for a fee, the nice thing with our PocketHealth integration is you now get [all your historical imaging dating] back to 2005.”
Patients of Mackenzie Health can now obtain all their health information from one place with a single sign-on. It has also allowed those with financial limitations or mobility issues to obtain their test results without leaving the comfort of their homes.
According to Thorne, and the hospital is able to reclaim 83 hours a month that was previously spent on locating and burning imaging results on CDs. It has created newfound efficiencies that have helped the Health Information Management Services department lighten the load in other areas, creating a cascade of additional efficiencies.
“Being able to provide this service virtually is absolutely great for our patients,” Thorne says. “It saves employees time, so we can focus on other tasks and the overall patient experience has been fantastic. It’s so meaningful for patients because there’s this push now for transparency and we are all about empowering patients.”
Mackenzie Health has taken this transparency to new heights by removing all delays that previously stood in the way of releasing results. Sometimes institutions want to ensure physicians see the results in advance of the patient. But with the right context set up front, Thorne believes that empowering patients with their own data reduces anxiety and results in a better patient experience. “Even oncology results are in real time,” says Thorne. “The foundation of this success is that providers are having proper conversations at the point of testing to set patient expectations. If patients do not want to know the results, they’re informed on how to turn off result notification in MyChart. Again, it’s a patient’s right to access their personal health information, so there should be no barriers.”