It’s not an easy task to try and catalogue all the acronyms in healthcare technology. You’ll hear about COWS, CC, RCM, PMS, eRX, BSV and a boatload of associations that specialize in health IT, among other unpronounceable nouns.
And just how many include the word ‘record’? Off the top of our heads we’re thinking EHR and PHR, but how many times do you hear people combining the two? Read on to learn about IPHRs and how they may benefit your practice in the near future.
Virginia Commonwealth University med school professor Alex Krist, MD, MPH decided PHRs aren’t as personalized and interactive as they should be. So, he came up with the idea of combining existing PHRs with EHR functionality.
Together with a team of eight researchers, Dr. Krist developed what they dubbed an “interactive” personal health record, which differs from a traditional PHR in the specificity of the functions it performs. IPHRs are patient-centered, more advanced and reliant on evidence, a patient portal focused on making preventive information accessible to patients and physicians.
The team organized a pilot study tracing the efficacy of IPHRs in eight primary care offices. Krist’s system addressed 18 services recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force, like blood pressure checks and cancer screenings.
Patients created a password-secured account linking them to the practice’s EHR, at which point the IPHR generated an initial health risk report and provided personalized prevention recommendations based on 167 clinical data points. After 16 months, the study found the rate of patients who remained up-to-date on preventive services doubled with access to an IPHR.
Are You Ready to Implement an IPHR?
Preventive care is the key to maintaining a healthy patient population and maintaining efficiency in your practice. In an effort to help your practice benefit from IPHR technology, Krist and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) outlined a guide to implementing an IPHR of your own.
The chief prerequisite is for your practice to already have an EHR in place. Further readiness benchmarks include leadership commitment and support for the IPHR implementation process, informatics expertise and prioritization of effective evidence-based preventive services.
To ensure your IPHR data is being processed by your EHR, you must establish three data transfer mechanisms: discrete data, which uses HL7 to send data to your EHR as discrete data elements; electronic document, where the IPHR generates a single summary document to send to your EHR; and the faxed document, which is easy but ultimately impractical, seeing as it doesn’t populate the EHR with data and manual linking to a patient’s chart is necessary.
Engage Patients and Staff
Once your practice ensures the IPHR is seamlessly integrated into your EHR, focus on persuading patients to create IPHR accounts and use the system. Your entire staff should participate in trying to engage patients, so both groups can get the most of your IPHR.
When patients visit your office, provide information about how to create an IPHR account, and remind them to do so again as they leave, as a call-to-action of sorts. You can even provide information prior to a patient’s office visit about how they can sign on before stepping foot inside your waiting room.
Furthermore, try helping your patient create an IPHR account while they’re in your office at a computer station or on a laptop. This gives wary patients something to do with their time and allows for direct confirmation as soon as he/she signs up.
And while your staff should be involved in the process of getting patients to sign up, they should also actively use the IPHR themselves. In order for the IPHR to be used as intended, your staff should know its ins and outs to deliver care. Train staff members if need be.
According to Dr. Krist’s handbook, IPHR “workflow should be systematized, automated, and reinforced” to make it easier for clinicians and staff to use the system.
This way, staff and clinicians can use IPHR summaries during patient visits, encourage patients to promote shared decision making, supplement health behavior with the IPHR’s resources, give patients access to lab results and encourage them to use the system for managing chronic conditions.
If you can accustom both your staff and patients to use the IPHR habitually, you’re a step closer to the system’s primary goal – improved delivery of care and promotion of your patients’ general well-being.
Have you heard of IPHRS? Does implementing one seem appealing?Tweet