May 21, 2024

Healt Hid

Because health is very important to us

Ochsner Health’s Patient Portal Enabling Efficient Care, Patient Communication

2 min read

Patients are able to access their health information and make payments with ease through the system’s patient portal.

From allowing patients to communicate with their providers, to viewing test results and making payments at their convenience, patient portals make up a significant portion of the patient experience.

Over the last decade, Ochsner Health began efforts to expand the system’s digital front door strategy. The system had been sharing billing statements and other information with patients through MyOchsner, its patient portal, but the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019 expediated these efforts as social distancing impacted patients’ access to care.

According to Eduardo Benitez, director of physician payments at Ochsner, the pandemic forced them to revisit healthcare and the way they coordinate with patients.

“There’s so much patients can utilize, from scheduling visits, to interfacing and coordinating with their healthcare team,” Benitez told HealthLeaders, referring to the capabilities of MyOchsner. “Being able to request their prescription refills, pay their bill, and even being able to do a telehealth visit.

Patients also appreciate having their medical information readily available to them, said Pam Barker, patient accounts supervisor at Ochsner. She added that a team manages the portal which is integrated with the system’s electronic health records platform, and there are smaller teams that oversee specific areas.

Benitez estimates the system’s portal utilization to be between 35-45%, with different factors coming into play, like the patient’s location and the department they want to interact with.

“With patient accounts and customer service, we can get upward of 6,000 easy requests per month just through the digital platform,” he explained. “The usage of it for [prescription refills] or maybe scheduling visits is probably a higher utilization.”

Looking at patient location, utilization varies regionally with some patient populations. According to Barker, New Orleans has the largest utilization for MyOchsner, while patients in areas like Lafayette prefer the system’s new pay by phone option. Since its implementation in January, the system has captured several thousand calls, Benitez said.

The growth of the system’s digital presence has increased the importance of protecting patient information.

“There’s quite a few back-stream methods in place, whether it be in [our EHR platform], within the portal, or even within our site to monitor for any suspicious activity,” Benitez said.

For example, in the event that a patient loses their portal password, they must verify their identity before they’re able to reset it. Similar identity verification efforts are used for employees.

“Any employee that is accessing a patient’s account has to add a notation to it on what [they] were in the account for,” Barker said.

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