The Kansas Health Information Network, which is in the process of connecting the electronic health record systems of thousands of providers across the state, hopes to launch a new statewide patient portal next month.
The portal will be free for all Kansas patients, said Laura McCrary, KHIN executive director.
“The goal is to really help patients become more engaged in their health care,” McCrary said. “If they don’t have a place where they can see all of their health information, it makes it hard to be engaged if you don’t know your current list of medications or the results of your last test or your current diagnosis.”
McCrary said she believes the portal will be the first of its kind nationwide. It will be available through KHIN’s website, www.khinonline.org.
In addition to seeing the records that doctors have put into the system, patients will be able to add their own information to the portal, like their diet and exercise habits, over-the-counter medications they take and their allergies. They can also upload records that they may be able to obtain from other providers.
Patients can also securely e-mail health care providers through the portal, to ask questions about prescriptions or schedule appointments.
The service will also benefit providers, McCrary said, because the federal government will provide financial incentives to providers who integrate electronic health records. One of the requirements is that a certain percentage of patients look at their personal health records.
As part of the statewide network, if a patient looks at his records, the occurrence will count for all of that patient’s providers, helping them meet the requirement, McCrary said.
KHIN has contracted with the company NoMoreClipboard to provide the service and has been working on the project about a year, McCrary said. She did not disclose the cost to create the portal.
KHIN members can access the portals as part of the fees they pay to be a part of the network, McCrary said.
The number of patients with electronic health records integrated into KHIN has grown rapidly over the past few months, recently hitting more than 1 million patients – almost one-third of the state’s population.
About 60 percent of all patients in Wichita have information in the network, McCrary said. There are more than 300 different health care providers who are members of KHIN, McCrary said. Although each organization only counts as one member, many of them, such as Via Christi Health, have multiple facilities.
One of the biggest challenges in sharing electronic health records is sharing images like X-rays because they take up a lot of space in the system, McCrary said.
A factor in high health care costs is repeated procedures like X-rays when they’re not readily available, McCrary said.
Currently, many providers burn the images onto CDs to share them with other providers, but that doesn’t always work, she said. So KHIN has put out a national request for proposal on a way to make those images part of a patient’s electronic health record by sending codes to providers who need the image to access it in the cloud.
“If there’s a way to make it available in real time to providers and patients and a way to store it in a way that doesn’t take up so much space, we’re looking for a company to do all of those things,” she said.