Cancer Care Portal Connects Docs To Patients

Oncologists can use the tool to help meet Meaningful Use regulations on patient engagement.

Nicole Lewis, Contributor

September 7, 2012

4 Min Read

9 Health IT Tools Patients Should Understand

9 Health IT Tools Patients Should Understand

9 Health IT Tools Patients Should Understand (click image for larger view and for slideshow)

Oncologists are looking for ways to meet Meaningful Use requirements that call for them to facilitate patients' access to their medical information online. Navigating Cancer has announced a tool to help accomplish that goal. Its patient portal has signed up more than 500 oncology providers across the country, enabling them to provide a more coordinated, patient-centered approach to care. At the same time, the Seattle-based company's product, the Patient Engagement Portal, will help patients build their own online personal health records (PHRs) to manage their care and access medical information from their providers.

Company officials said Navigating Cancer hit the milestone of adding 500 oncology providers to the patient portal in mid-August and has signed up several large practices including Advanced Medical Specialties in Miami, Michiana Hematology Oncology in Northern Indiana, and the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders in Fort Worth, Texas.

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Navigating Cancer CEO Gena Cook said the company began offering its cloud-based and electronic health record (EHR)-agnostic patient portal to oncologists two years ago, and currently there are 20,000 patients and around 200 oncology providers using the system. Cook expects that number to grow as practices that have recently signed on begin to integrate their EHRs with the Patient Engagement Portal tool.

Through the system, new patients are invited electronically to register via their clinic's website prior to their first appointment. Once they've signed up and logged into the system, patients can enter their name, their medication list, their insurance information, and all relevant information from home before the doctor's visit. For patients scheduled for a return visit, the system allows them to update any changes to their condition that might have occurred between visits, such as information about how they felt during the course of a treatment or new medication prescribed by another doctor.

The system allows oncologists to add information such as lab results, diagnosis, and references to resource materials for the patients' PHRs. Cook stressed that oncologists will manage each patient's complete medical record stored in their office EHR; that won't be posted on the cloud.

"What we are trying to do is help physicians adhere to the standards outlined in the American College of Surgeons 2012 Commission on Cancer report and the requirements for patient-centered medical home and Accountable Care Organization models of care," Cook said. "We are also preparing patients and physicians to meet Meaningful Use stage 2 requirements that call for greater electronic exchange of health information between a physician and their patients."

The recently released final rules for Meaningful Use stage 2 call for physicians applying for EHR incentive payments to provide patients with electronic copies of their health information so that patients can view, download, and transmit their health information online. Stage 2 also requires that more than 5% of patients send secure messages to their healthcare provider.

As these requirements put more pressure on healthcare providers to offer PHRs to their patients, Nancy Fabozzi, principal analyst at Frost & Sullivan, said disease-specific patient engagement tools like the patient portal being offered by Navigating Cancer can motivate patients to establish and continually use a PHR.

"There needs to be a reason [to open a PHR] and that reason usually pertains to the need to manage a specific chronic or acute health condition," Fabozzi said. "For patients, cancer is clearly one of the most difficult conditions to manage in terms of understanding various treatment options, coordinating appointments with various providers, tracking treatments and medications, and keeping up with the latest research."

InformationWeek Healthcare brought together eight top IT execs to discuss BYOD, Meaningful Use, accountable care, and other contentious issues. Also in the new, all-digital CIO Roundtable issue: Why use IT systems to help cut medical costs if physicians ignore the cost of the care they provide? (Free with registration.)

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