Engaging Patients with MyChart

Donna Sollenberger, EVP & CEO, UTMB Health System

One of this year’s Health System goals, as well as a goal in the future, is to be the preferred provider of choice for patients in our area. We have a variety of tactics planned to help us achieve this goal, including the improvement of patient access to clinic appointments, access to personal medical information, and effective communication between patients and their health care teams.

Recently, UTMB Health completed the utmbConnect project which provides our patients with a single electronic medical record.  Regardless of where the patient goes within the UTMB Health System, physicians and other providers are able to access that patient’s medical information.

In 2011, we implemented MyChart, a secure electronic way for patients to access their health information and communicate with their UTMB health care team. Since its implementation, 34,315 patients now have active MyChart accounts and 3,232 patients utilize the mobile app.

Patients using the system are able to make appointment requests online, link to their family’s accounts with proxy access, view their lab results (one of the most popular features), request medication refills, view their medical history and much more. It’s also an excellent method for patients and their health care teams to maintain contact with one another, and it improves the ability of physicians and staff to respond to patients’ questions in a timely manner. Perhaps the best feature of MyChart is the ability of patients to communicate with UTMB at their convenience, any hour of the day or night, for non-emergent requests.

All that’s necessary to get a MyChart account is to become a UTMB patient and sign up! By signing up as an employee, not only will you reap all of the benefits and convenience of the tool, but it’s also easier to explain the importance of the tool to our patients. Here are just a handful of testimonials from individuals who are already using the system:

“MyChart is a valuable and convenient tool. I would like to have even more information listed—the more informed a patient is about his/her medical status, the more involved that individual can be, and patient involvement is important.”

“The convenience of MyChart makes my health care needs transparent. I can get in touch with the majority of my physicians, request appointments and refill prescriptions without going through tons of staff.”

“I think this is a really great concept to keep patients better informed and also make it easier to communicate with the doctors at UTMB.”

“I like that I can use MyChart to make appointments or to request medication refills. I also like that I can email my PCP if I have any concerns or questions and will receive a response quickly. I appreciate being able to view and compare my lab results and look at the information regarding appointments past and upcoming as well as my hospitalization information. I love MyChart and wish that all my doctors used this system!”

“I think MyChart is one of the very best things UTMB could have done. I can get in touch with my doctor and he can reach me whenever anything is of concern to either of us. I have asked him a question on MyChart and he responded promptly. I think it is great.”

“I have found it convenient to be able to communicate with my doctor regarding my health. Given my busy schedule and the doctor’s busy schedule, it is difficult to communicate by phone.”

“I can’t imagine being satisfied with treatment at an institution that does not provide this service.”

“I really like having the information at my fingertips; current and historical.”

“I love using this – it makes me feel more in control of my health. I like the access that it brings to my doctors. As a patient, you don’t always have questions ready and it is nice to that that you can reach out to the doctor, should you have any.”

While 17 percent of UTMB patients currently have a MyChart account, we want to increase that number so that all of our patients can experience this exceptional tool. The first step to achieving this is to let them know about it and explain how it will add convenience to managing their health.

Beth Scribner, ambulatory Epic project manager, says she feels excited and privileged to be part of the team working to bring MyChart to UTMB patients. “I often have the opportunity to speak with patients about MyChart. Not only do they love the convenience of it, they say they feel more involved in their care and continually praise UTMB for making it available to them. Introducing MyChart to all of our patients, and having our staff use it routinely in their care, is the ultimate in patient engagement.”

Scribner suggests that when mentioning MyChart to patients, it’s helpful to first ask them if they use email; if yes, sign them up. She explains that patients may be more likely to decline if they’re simply asked: “Do you want to sign up for MyChart?” She also recommends that activating the patient in the system during the visit is the most efficient and effective way to assure the patient becomes a MyChart user—once they leave the clinic, even though they have an access code and instructions on their After Visit Summary (AVS) or Hospital Discharge Summary, they are less likely to actually activate their account.

MyChart is an excellent tool and a great way we can improve our patients’ experiences at UTMB Health. Visit the MyChart page on utmbhealth.com for more information and if you haven’t already, sign up today!

What are you and your colleagues doing to improve our patient’s experience and/or patient engagement and communication at UTMB Health? I would love to hear from you! Please send your examples to me at health.system@utmb.edu, and I will share your examples in future issues of Friday Flash Report.