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Transforming Health: High-tech tools empower patients

Written by Matt Paul, Reporter/Producer | Aug 29, 2013 4:00 AM
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Technology is helping people like Winnie McNelis better manage their health care.

“It gives me a sense of empowerment,” she says while logging in to access her health records online. “I can go in, I have a complete record of all my health issues and test results. I know that I can contact the doctor with any concerns that I have.”

Patient portals are becoming ubiquitous, whether it's MyWellSpan, MyPinnacleHealth, My Penn State Hershey Health or MyGeisinger. McNelis is using MyLGHealth from the back porch of her home in Lititz.

She’s 78 and doesn't consider herself computer savvy, but says navigating MyLGHealth is easy. The hardest part was picking out a password, she adds with a laugh.

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Corey Meyer at the office

Lancaster General Health's director of mobile and virtual health, Corey Meyer, says older adults represent the fastest-growing segment of users for their patient portal.

MyLGHealth has more than 57,000 users today, and that figure has roughly doubled over the past year.

“Last July we had 28,000 users,” Meyer says. “So we went from 28,000 users at the beginning of last year, to 53,000 users [at the end of the fiscal year]. Now just these last two months we're averaging 500 - 600 new users per week.” Meyer expects MyLGHealth will have 80,000 users by next July.

From their home computer or mobile device, patients can schedule appointments, check their health records, contact their doctors and view test results.

“For folks that get lab tests often, you can trend stuff over time. It's not just looking at a few pieces of paper, you can actually see the data, and see how you're trending -- see how your weight's trending, see how your cholesterol's trending if that's an issue,” Meyer explains. “If you're diabetic, you're seeing how your glucose readings are trending.”

McNelis agrees, and notes that accessing test results online helps her prepare for her next office visit. “I guess it sort of gives me a sense of control over my health,” she concludes.

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Photo by witf/Matt Paul

The view of Lancaster General Hospital from E. James Street

Meyer says that’s the goal. He wants patients to be more engaged in their health care. The theory is that an engaged patient will wind up being healthier in the long run.

Lancaster General introduced its patient portal in 2009. While it's come a long way since then, Meyer is also eager to see what the future will hold. He says a pilot project has been launched for e-visits to address common symptoms and conditions, and the hospital is planning a device integration pilot that can automatically upload critical data, like glucose and blood pressure readings that are taken at home.

 

   

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