UPMC's patient portal goes mobile

With its innovative approach to managing patient health easy access to the portal is becoming more important than ever

A health portal used by patients and doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) is now accessible on iPhones and iPads, thanks to the new mobile HealthTrak application. With its innovative approach to managing patient health - through technology like eVisits and tethered records - easy access to the portal is becoming more important than ever. 

UPMC is one of the nation's premier nonprofit health systems. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, the center is composed of 20 hospitals, a 1.4-million member health plan, and more than 400 doctors' offices and outpatient sites. The HealthTrak portal is a powerful technological thread running through UPMC, helping to provide integration.

"HealthTrak is a patient portal," said G. Daniel Martich, MD, chief medical information officer at UPMC. "It's a tethered electronic medical record and patient database. 'Tethered' means the provider and patient are able to look at the same data; it provides complete transparency."

Essentially, what the doctor sees (lab data, test results) the patient sees as well. "Doctors like it, because they don't necessarily have to enter data, which is what they would have to do if it was an untethered record," said Martich.

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Through their HealthTrak accounts, UPMC patients are able manage their health using the Internet. The portal grants them the ability to schedule appointments, review medical histories and test results, renew prescriptions, and ask billing questions - all with the click of a keyboard. Now, using the mobile HealthTrak application, many of these functions are available by tapping the glass of an iPad or an iPhone.

To access HealthTrak data using a mobile device, patients must secure a HealthTrak account by visiting UPMCHealthTrak.com. Mobile-users should then download MyChart from the iTunes Applications store, and select UPMC as the healthcare provider.

"We know that our patients need and want secure access to their medical records, even when they are on the go. With this mobile version of UPMC's HealthTrak, already used by more than 62,000 patients, we can offer them a convenient and free way to manage their care," Martich said.

As the 62,000 user count suggests, UPMC patients seem to approve of the HealthTrak portal, and their utilization is growing every week. As Martich explained, since HealthTrak's pilot period about four years ago, the magnitude of users has increased tremendously.

[See also: Docs, patients ready for online tools.]

"We expect that number to be over 100,000 by year's end. It's growing every day," said Martich. "Our user amount is increasing by about 600 each week. The word gets out. The news about HealthTrak is spreading in healthcare media and in the academic press, as well as simply among neighbors and friends. It's certainly growing in popularity."

With the increasing positivity surrounding HealthTrak, Martich expects patients to respond enthusiastically to the mobile app.

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