Just one year after The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center launched its secured, Web-based portal for personal health information, more than 28,000 patients (57 percent) who logged into myMDAnderson – a personalized, online connection to the center – have accessed their personal medical information, test results and records.
Likewise, 40 percent of authorized referring community physicians who logged into the platform have accessed their patients’ Personal Health Record to track their progress.
The Personal Health Record located on the myMDAnderson site provides patients, survivors and referring physicians access to personal medical information – including radiology and endoscopy reports, medication records, laboratory results, transcribed physician notes and survivorship information – from anywhere in the world.
It is available to all patients and survivors seen on MD Anderson’s main campus and its six regional care centers in the Houston area. Those patients and survivors also can approve access for their primary care or referring physicians so they can stay current and involved in their MD Anderson care.
MD Anderson Clinical Information Services reports note that patients access their personal medical information an average of 3.3 times per week, while referring physicians are clicking on their patients’ records 2.8 times per week. New-patient users are added every week as they register at MD Anderson, return for checkups or hear about the portal.
“Access to personal patient records has long been a part of the open culture at MD Anderson,” said Thomas Feeley, M.D., vice president of Medical Operations, who collaborated with MD Anderson’s technology team to develop the solution. “When I first arrived here in 1997, you frequently saw patients hand carrying their medical charts, many of which were several inches thick. Today, the concept is the same but much easier to carry.
“With the information available on the Personal Health Record, patients, MD Anderson physicians and community physicians can communicate more effectively because everyone is better informed and more actively engaged in care. This makes for a better patient/physician relationship and, ultimately, a better patient experience.”
While the range of information available on Personal Health Record is wide and prompt, what are not immediately available to patients are laboratory results, diagnostic imaging and pathology reports, though this information readily is available to referring physicians.
Larry Driver, M.D., professor in the Department of Pain Medicine who worked closely with the Medical Records Committee on the project, said that a delay in posting such results allows the care team an appropriate period of time to see the patient in an appointment, interpret the results and talk through any questions a patient may have. The results are usually available for patient view seven days after they are finalized to allow for this dialogue.
“It’s important to allow our specialized health care teams the time they need to walk a patient through new test results,” said Driver, who also is a clinical ethicist. “It could be very disconcerting for a patient to see that one of their markers has spiked or a radiology report that notes a questionable shadow without proper interpretation or context from their physician. What’s great is that once a patient and their team have had the conversation, the patient can go back, read the reports, and that can reinforce the visit.”
In May 2009, when MD Anderson introduced Personal Health Record, it was the first Comprehensive Cancer Center in the nation to offer protected, Web-based access to medical information. Because MD Anderson already had the patient information platform known as myMDAnderson, which is a secure patient portal for making appointments, asking questions of their care team, getting approvals for pharmacy refills, retrieving patient education materials and making payments, the addition of Personal Health Record was a natural, said Feeley. Referring physicians also have their own section on myMDAnderson to check on the status of patients, keeping them integrally involved in the care process.