Backus patient portal has drawn 2,000 users since April

Norwich — Patients of The William W. Backus Hospital, its six affiliated health centers and physicians offices can now access their medical information around the clock via an online health record launched in April.

Michael Cushing, senior applications system analyst at Backus, said about 2,000 patients have signed up for the system thus far, but actual use of the system has lagged. The goal now, he said, is to encourage more patients to spend time on the site, and hospital staff have been focusing especially on signing up inpatients while they are in the hospital and showing them the features of the site.

“It’s a totally secure site, and it empowers patients to know more about their own health,” Cushing said.

Once on the portal, patients can look up their medications and doses, send doctors a request for a refill, check two years’ worth of diagnostic imaging results or lab tests dating from 2003. Test results are available to patients on the portal within 36 hours of the test, Cushing said, along with basic information about whether their results are above, below or at target levels.

“It doesn’t replace talking to your doctor and having a conversation when you have a question,” he said.

Patients can, however, send questions to their doctors through the site, and physicians can send messages to their patients reminding them that it’s time to make a follow-up appointment or schedule a screening test.

The site also shows appointments and hospitalization history, physicians’ reports and health summaries, among other information.

“You can read your X-ray report, your discharge summary, the provider notes and about your emergency department visit,” Cushing said. “Having timely access to information is good for patients.”

The site also allows for family members and other caregivers to be able to access information on their loved ones, provided the patient gives permission.

The hospital decided to create the portal in December 2012, motivated largely by financial incentives offered to hospitals by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services for meeting its “meaningful use” criteria for use of technology to provide patients with timely information, Cushing said.

“Clearly the government is promoting total transparency,” he said.

 j.benson@theday.com

Twitter: @bensonjudy

Patient portal: How to

The William W. Backus Hospital patient portal can be found at www.backushospital.org/portal.

Patients can sign up online using a Backus medical records number and a personal email address already in the Backus system, or by contacting the hospital's medical records department at (860) 823-6363.

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