MACOMB — McDonough District Hospital’s online patient portal is picking up speed.
The MDH board on Monday heard an update on the portal from presenter Amanda Chambers, director of practice management and clinical access strategist.
The portal allows patients online access to their medical records. It has been collecting patient information since June of 2016, according to the MDH website.
Chambers said staff have been stepping up education efforts in recent months so patients know how to use the portal’s various functions.
“We have lots of fill requests starting to come through, and every so often we do have some general messages that patients are just messaging their provider to ask a question. We’re really starting to get them engaged with their healthcare,” she said.
The portal is accessible through a smartphone app as well as online through the hospital website. As of the Monday night meeting, it had 3,364 users with over 130 others in the process of being accepted within the past month.
Patients can use the portal to view upcoming appointments or request an appointment; see their vital signs if they’ve had a recent visit: verify and update information; request refills and see medications; as well as message staff and email their providers, among other functions. Patients can also use the smartphone app to send photos of medical concerns, such as rashes or swelling, to their doctor’s clinical pool of assistants.
She gave an example of a patient who used the portal to see if she needed to bring her child into the hospital overnight. “Her child woke up in the middle of the night with a barky cough, shortness of breath. She wasn’t sure what to do..if she needed to go to the ER, or wait until the next morning.”
Being able to use the patient portal allowed her to get the advice she needed to tend to her child and set up an appointment for the next morning without having to make an overnight trip to the ER, she said.
Chambers said beginning in January, patients will be able to fill in their medical history to reduce time at intake. Plans for the future include situation-specific questionnaires and remote video doctor visits available through the portal for an extra cost.
During the question and answer portion of the presentation, some board members had security related questions.
Member Rita Moore asked if lab results would be available through the portal. Chambers responded that lab results would post, with the caveat that lab results with sensitive information would be blocked from going to the portal. She gave an example of testing for HIV being blocked from the portal.
Board member Chuck Butterfield asked if it was a safe site with regard to identity theft. She said yes, that it was a secure portal.
When asked if it was provided through Cerner, Chambers said, “It’s a product through Cerner, so it’s all integrated.”
It was announced Monday that it was Dr. Ed Card’s last board meeting as the Chief of Medical Staff. Card remains on staff. Dr. Tim Biagini will be taking his spot on the board.

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