Portal to health

One of the trends in health care these days is for the patient to play a more active role in their health care and physical well being. Trinity Health is one such leader in that trend in that patients of the hospital are now able to access their health information online.

On Aug. 1, the health system of Trinity introduced an online patient portal that provides patients secure Internet access to their health information. It’s a new feature that complies with part of the Affordable Care Act in regard to release of information, which is to give the patient control of his or her own information, said David Wanner, vice president and Chief Information Officer for Trinity Health.

People can access the portal through Trinity’s main website, (trinityhealth.org). Invitations will be generated from the doctor’s office asking people to register for the portal.

“Once registered, people will be able to view their health information including lab results, medications, immunizations and allergies,” Wanner said. Patients will also be able to communicate with their providers and even request appointments and prescription renewals.

One thing Wanner wanted to emphasize with the portal is that it is highly secure. The online portal uses the latest encryption technology, he said, so patients can be confident that their private health information is protected. The person will also have to provide a verifiable email address to make sure the right person is gaining access. “We take security very seriously,” Wanner said.

There is only a small percentage of hospitals that have the online patient portal so far, but Wanner said he thinks it will grow in time. All hospitals will eventually be required to offer it, he said, and Trinity is on the leading edge. Trinity is also on the leading edge of their strategic planning for mobile technology to help patients make smart decisions in health care, Wanner said. People are used to doing banking online, so this is similar for healthcare, he added.

Wanner said he thought it’s important to offer the online patient portal because it will help people make smart decisions about their health care. The portal will also allow patients to email their physician. Everyone has probably been in the doctor’s office and afterward realized you forgot to ask the physician a question. “People can submit questions through email in the portal and the physician will answer in a timely manner,” Wanner said.

Trinity Health has placed a continuous emphasis on IT as a strategic initiative to enhance patient care and safety. Wanner said he’s thrilled to be among one of the first to provide the convenience of the online patient portal to the patients. “We recognize that people are becoming more active decision-makers in their health care,” he added. “This portal is a tool that will help them become more informed and engaged, and ultimately help lead to healthier communities throughout our region.”