Successful Western Norway Patient System
The use of www.Vestlandspasienten.no (Western Norway Patient System) is steadily increasing and the number of services in the portal is steadily expanding. It will soon be possible to have an electronic dialogue with the health trust, confirm that you will attend an appointment and add it to your calendar.
Pernille Gisselmann is project manager of the ever more comprehensive web portal for patients in the Western Norway Regional Health Authority, www.Vestlandspasienten.no.
'It's quite fascinating to see that patients log on to the portal from all over the world,' says Pernille Gisselmann, project manager of the Western Norway Patient System in the Western Norway Regional Health Authority. It seems that more patients choose to log on while they are on holiday to check what appointments they have at the outpatients clinic when they get home. Today, the patient can send electronic messages to the health trust via www.Vestlandspasienten.no and ask for a new appointment if the outpatient clinic appointment they have been given does not suit them. Patients in Førde Health Trust can also see and request changes to their X-ray appointments.
The number of portal users is steadily increasing, and there were between 5,000 and 6,000 users a week this autumn (2015).
Ever new functionality
The focus of the Western Norway Patient System has been on showing appointments, but new functionality is regularly added. Many of these functions are developed in collaboration with DIPS ASA. Now, it is also possible to authorise others to handle your health information and appointments, it is possible to see appointments for children under 12 for whom you have care and control, and see the status of hospital referrals. Thirty per cent of calls received by the hospitals concern precisely such questions.
'We are gradually adding new services. And we haven't started large-scale marketing of the system yet. We've put if off while we add some more functions, and some more and some more,' says Gisselmann with a smile. 'It's natural to want to have as much functionality in place as possible before we start shouting about it.'
The Western Norway Patient System has been available to everyone in the Western Norway health region for two years now. After New Year, electronic dialogue will be possible with the health trusts. Here, you can communicate with a medical secretary, primarily about appointments, changing appointments or if you wish to discontinue treatment. The latter scenario must be discussed with a doctor. The webpages will provide information about the type of questions that can be answered in the portal. Cancer patients undergoing cancer treatment packages will have the opportunity to communicate electronically with their care pathway coordinator.
The way it is now the patient sends a message to us, and we have to call them back with an answer within two days. The health trusts are keen to establish electronic dialogue, so they're obviously really looking forward to seeing it fall into place. The current commitment to phone patients is time-consuming, Gisselmann says.
Personal health archive
Once electronic dialogue has been introduced, all questions and answers will be stored automatically in the personal health archive through helsenorge.no. The answers will be added to the patient records.
'Questions and answers come up in different colours as is usual for chat services, while the health trusts still have two days to answer,' the project manager explains.
In this personal health archive, the health trusts will also eventually be able to add referral letters, discharge summaries and other documents that are currently sent in the post to the patient.
In the course of 2016, the Western Norway Patient System will also give patients access to their own patient records, based on the work conducted by the Northern Norway Regional Health Authority, and will eventually also show the access log to the records.
The Western Norway Patient System is part of the 'Alle Møter' (All Attend) project that has been under way in the Western Norway Regional Health Authority since 2013. The project manager Finn Olav Mjærum, says that more intensive marketing of the Western Norway Patient System is planned for early 2016.
'All letters sent by post to patients in the Western Norway Regional Health Authority now contain information about the possibilities inherent in the Western Norway Patient System, so that the portal will gradually become better known. And the feedback has been very good to date,' says Pernille Gisselmann.
'Soon, we will introduce a joint view with the regular GP project, so that everyone who has a regular GP who is included in the system will be able to see their GP appointments in the Western Norway Patient System.
Things are really taking off now. It's great fun,' says the committed project manager.