November 2, 2013

Franklin Hospital patients accessing files through the Web

Pilot program geared toward proactive health care is being used by a handful of doctors at the Farmington hospital

By Kaitlin Schroeder kschroeder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

FARMINGTON — Under a pilot program geared toward proactive health care, some Franklin County patients are accessing their doctor’s files online from their homes.

The pilot program, called the patient portal, is now being used by a handful of doctors at Franklin Community Health Network, and chief information officer Ralph Johnson said he hopes to spread the program to the entire network.

The program lets patients take more ownership of their health care because their files are no longer something that stays at the doctor’s office and is just the doctor’s responsibility, but is something easily accessible from the patients’ homes, Johnson said.

“I really feel that the next big stride to be made in health care is to change to patients actively engaged in their health care,” he said.

The program is one part of the movement at the network to encourage patients to be proactive with their health care. Other recent initiatives include the Choosing Wisely program, where doctors try to get patients to choose the right care even if that means less care, and the Community Paramedicine program, where paramedics provide proactive health care and health education during the slow parts of their shifts.

He said along with the hospital’s philosophy of health education and prevention, the Center for Medicare and MaineCare services is offering incentives for hospitals that take digital initiatives like getting doctors who see Medicaid patients to enroll at least 5 percent of their overall patients in the patient portal. He said the network gets about $7,000 per doctor who reaches this measure.

He said there are 1,152 patients enrolled as of early last week and 360 have logged in to the portal. He said network doctors see about 20,000 different patients per year.

Steve Goss, a physician with Franklin Health Internal Medicine, said its been slow to get patients to register, but the ones who have are doing well with the system.

He said he uses the portal to send patients materials specific to their conditions.

“If I get a cholesterol profile of elevated blood sugar, I can push dietary information through the portal,” he said. “By and large it’s been an effective education tool.”

A patient of Goss’s, Randy Stone, 56, of Fayette, said the portal has a list of all the medications he’s taking, which helps him keep track of what he has been prescribed.

He said the patient portal is a user friendly way to stay ahead of health problems.

“I’m able to look at the blood work results and if I see something out of line, I can call Steve Goss and say ‘Does that mean my potassium is elevated? What are we going to do about it?” he said.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

kschroeder@centralmaine.com

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