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Upstate makes health records digital, accessible

Patients can now access their health records through a secure Web portal or smartphone app

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- In a first for the region, Upstate University Hospital outpatients will be able to access their own health records, request medical appointments and help to manage their own care from their home computer or smartphone through a new, confidential electronic medical records (EMR) and practice management system. The program launches today in the Family Medicine practice and will expand incrementally to cover all Upstate ambulatory patients by the end of the year.

An EMR is a paperless, digital system that integrates all of a patient’s records across all components of Upstate Medical University and can be accessed through Upstate MyChart. “Launching Upstate MyChart, our patient-driven EMR access platform, creates convenience for patients, but also promotes consistency for healthcare providers,” explains Neal Seidberg, M.D., Upstate University Hospital chief medical information officer. “The EMR creates one standardized record of all of that patient’s information. For instance, when determining a prescription a physician can see any other medications that patient may be taking, allergies or related complaints without having to access additional files.”

To access records, patients can choose to create a free account with Upstate MyChart. This secure, password protected account will be accessible exclusively to the patient, around the clock. The information in MyChart is encrypted, meaning that it can only be unscrambled and displayed when the proper username and password have been entered. MyChart is not intended for urgent medical issues or to resolve health-related issues. A patient should contact their provider directly with these concerns.

John McCabe, M.D., senior vice president for hospital affairs, Upstate University Hospital, recognizes this program as a natural addition to the Upstate offering. “Upstate is committed to embracing opportunities like this that further empower our patients and help to build them a personal network of health information. This is directly in line with our focus on quality and patient safety,” he said. The implementation of this program involved a dedicated team of 30 and an investment of $20 million.

Upstate MyChart, enabled by Epic Systems and implemented through a partnership with University Medical Associates of Syracuse, Upstate’s faculty practice plan, can change the way that patients and practices manage health care situations. Immediate benefits include:

-Security. The Web portal and smartphone applications of this software have been developed by Epic to meet stringent security standards, which protect patient data at all times.

-Access. All of a patient’s medicines, immunizations and flu vaccines and medical history, as well as any physician’s notes from recent medical appointments, are accessible within the EMR for secure reference. Notes can include recommendations for preventative care and other information discussed in the medical appointment.

-Convenience. Patients can make appointments or submit messages to their physician’s office directly from the Web portal or smartphone applications.

-Access for parents. Parents will be able to access immunization records needed for school children directly through the portal. An additional visit to the physician’s office or fax forms will no longer be necessary.

-Prescription help. Physicians will send e-prescriptions directly to the pharmacy at the conclusion of a visit. Patients can request refills from their physician using the portal as needed.

-Lab work access. Any on-site lab work will be made available as part of the patient’s EMR after 72 hours. Patients should continue to discuss lab results with their physician as a matter of course.