|By Michaela Gibson Morris, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Tupelo|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
"We do everything online, book airline tickets, paying bills," said
The secure, free services give access to medication histories, visit summaries, lab results and reminders about upcoming appointments. On most hospital portals, patients can see their discharge instructions. With the clinic portals, patients can request refills and communicate securely with the staff.
"The ultimate goal is to have patients more engaged with their care," said
Patients need tools to manage their health between doctors' visits. Especially with chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure, success often hinges on how well individuals can execute the game plan they developed with their health care team between visits.
"By partnering with patients and giving them electronic access, we hope we'll have better outcomes," said
The portals for area hospitals and clinics generally don't give patients unlimited access to doctor's notes and detailed lab reports, although patients can request more detailed information that can be delivered securely through the portal.
In the short term, physicians using portals say their patients have appreciated the extra access to information and communication.
"It cuts down on the phone calls and back and forth," said
Crosswhite said his patients have appreciated seeing lab results as soon as he signs off on them. The patient report in the portal flags the results that need immediate action, not simply the ones that might be just outside the ideal range.
"We've tried to make it more meaningful," Crosswhite said.
Around the region
Although there are a number of incentives for hospitals and clinics to move to electronic records and make patient portals available, those who treat
A number of hospitals and clinic systems around the region have patient portals up and going, and more are coming online.
Baptist Memorial Hospitals in
Each health system operates their own portal, and depending on the organization, there may be separate portals for hospital stays and outpatient clinic visits.
"Ours is unique because it's a community chart," covering 80 clinics and 300 providers, said
The clinic system portals are also separate for Gilmore's
Baptist Memorial hospitals and the affiliated
"One of the biggest benefits is that it's an integrated record," Jordan said.
How they work
To protect patient privacy and meet federal HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Privacy Act), signing up for patient portals requires multi-step identity verification.
"It's designed to improve safety and efficiency of care while protecting privacy and security," Jordan said.
Generally, email and text message don't meet those standards, which is why patients have to log into the portal to receive detailed medical information, Renfroe said.
To sign up for portals, patients will need an email address to set up online access. Organizations have processes set up for those who need to serve as proxies for children and dependent adults.
For many hospitals, people don't have to wait until they have a hospital stay to sign up for one of the hospital portal services. Medical record departments can guide individuals in setting up portal accounts.
"There's a lot of excitement about getting signed up," Hill said.
For most clinics, the process begins in person. For example, after identification verification, clinics in the NMMC system give patients a PIN good for 30 days.
"That way, when you leave, you can immediately benefit," Jordan said.
For more information on accessing patient portals, visit or contact:
--(877) 456-9617, Monday-Friday,
--www.ochregional.com, click on patient portal link
--Email -- firstname.lastname@example.org
(c)2014 the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo, Miss.)
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