At the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), patients with diabetes are being given the opportunity to review their medical records, including lab results, medications, immunizations and current health problems online through a secure, web-based portal.
The initiative, called HealthTrak, hopes enhance patient-physician communication from anywhere in the world, in addition to better management of their healthcare by using an internet portal.
The portal includes online tools to help patients track their progress on various health measures such as weight, blood glucose levels and stress. Each participant in the pilot project also receives a pedometer so that he or she can check the number of steps walked each day.
In addition, patients can communicate with their primary-care physicians as well as their office medical staff, schedule routine appointments online, receive alerts about appointments and other health reminders and submit requests for prescription refills and referrals. Patients also are alerted when it is time for their check-ups and routine tests.
Doctors involved in the project say the portal is not a replacement for personal contact, but rather a mechanism to provide a secure communication tool through which patients can communicate with their physicians in a more timely and effective fashion.
Patient files are accessed directly via the UPMC HealthTrak Web site, which is accessible only to patients who have registered for an account. All information exists on secure servers. The web site has security and complies with all HIPAA regulations along with offering the convenience of single one time sign-on, which requires individuals to remember only one username and password.
The first phase of HealthTrak is being funded in part by a federal appropriation to the UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Diabetes Institute, which was announced by Congressman John Murtha in February 2004.
Plans call for three other UPMC physician groups to offer UPMC HealthTrak to patients with diabetes within the next several months. In the long term, UPMC wants to offer the tool to all its patients.