Providing new tools for improved patient-physician communication and care
Building a strong relationship between a physician and patient is among the top goals for healthcare. When patients understand their conditions and have easy access to information that will improve their health, chances are better that they will follow their doctor's orders, get healthy and stay healthy.
That’s the principle behind the Berkshire Patient Portal – an online tool that enables Berkshire Health Systems’ patients to interact with their physicians, review the results of labs and other diagnostics, and better manage their health. It’s also among a growing array of interactive technology provided by BHS Information Systems that is helping to deliver better care and outcomes within the BHS community of physicians and patients.
In addition to storing such information as physician visits, immunizations, allergies, lab and radiology results and even a history of a patient’s vitals, the Berkshire Patient Portal also provides a quick and effective way for patients to message their providers, receive appointment reminders by text or email, or schedule an appointment. Prescriptions can also be renewed through the portal.
Along with information uploaded directly to the portal from the doctor’s office, the patient also has the ability to manually enter other vital data, such as current weight, more frequent blood pressure checks, and even the number of steps they took that day so that their providers can track how well their patients are managing their health.
While the Berkshire Patient Portal facilitates enhanced physician-patient communication, other forms of healthcare technology at BHS are opening new opportunities for better patient care. Berkshire Partnership for Health has launched a first-ever initiative in which technology now connects healthcare providers and community organizations, which are playing a more significant role in patient care.
Launched in 2015, the new partnership helps to address and reduce preventable illnesses and injuries by seeking out patients in the community, solving the problems that keep them from accessing healthcare, and coordinating a program of health and wellness that includes both clinical and community resources. For example, preventing falls among the elderly is one of program’s goals, which is achieved in partnership with the YMCA’s Matter of Balance class.
With BHS Information Systems technology, physicians now refer patients in the Berkshire Partnership for Health program to the Matter of Balance class, sharing online limited patient health information with the class instructors so they know the needs of each patient. In turn, class instructors stay in touch online with the patient’s physician so that they can discuss progress at the next doctor’s appointment and create new health goals that the community agencies will help the patient achieve.
Before the installation of this technology, physicians never communicated with the community-based organizations that were actually helping their patients lower their blood pressure, reduce the risk of diabetes and other preventable illnesses. Now, community health educators have the information they need to help people achieve better health.
Other forms of technology provided by BHS Information Systems are providing additional – and often critical – services for patients. The Emergency Departments at Fairview Hospital and at the North Adams Campus of BMC are equipped with state-of-the-art telemedicine technology, so that patients suspected of stroke can be immediately evaluated by a neurologist at BMC in Pittsfield, speeding the delivery of drugs that can reduce and even prevent the serious side-effects of stroke.
Similarly, patients at BHS Heart Failure Clinics are equipped with a home remote device that records a patient’s vital signs and other information, and sends the data back to the clinic’s medical team. Nurses are able to track the health of their patients at home, quickly address any changes in condition, and dramatically reduce re-admission to the hospital.
BHS was named among the American Hospital Association's Most Wired in 2017 for its commitment to improving communication, safety, and patient-physician relationships, and helping patients become more actively engaged in maintaining their health.
For more news about how Information Technology is advancing patient care at BHS hospitals, please click on the links to the left.