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Program lets patients access data from home

CHARLESTON, WV -- Patients might not have to wait on a call to hear about lab results anymore with a hospital's new program allowing people to access information from home.Charleston Area Medical Center's free program, called PatientLink, allows patients to access lab tests, imaging results, discharge summary information and living wills and medical power of attorney documents.The service is available for anyone who comes to CAMC or any of its four hospitals as an inpatient, anyone who goes into urgent care facilities or people who get lab work.People can access information dating back to July 2012 but will need to request paper medical records before that time.  Hospital officials hope in the future the program will see national connectivity, so patients could hop from one hospital to the next across the nation and still be connected by an online trail.Elizabeth Pellegrin, chief marketing officer at CAMC, said PatientLink has been in the works for almost two years.To kick off the system, CAMC encouraged their employees to use the system during the benefit enrollment period.Since then, nearly 1,200 people have signed up for the system."I hope it's very convenient for patients and we will continue to improve on it and make more and more information available. I really hope people will use it," Pellegrin said.
Some results show up quicker than others. Pellegrin said depending on the test, some results can be up within three days."Sometimes, things have to grow or the results have to be reviewed by multiple physicians so it can be up to a few days," Pellegrin said. "You don't have to wait for a letter in the mail to say everything is fine."Pellegrin said CAMC is working on referring physicians to get patient information on the system.  When someone goes in for imaging, the images aren't available on the system but results are available after a radiologist signs off on it.However, the results do require some interpretation since the language can be in medical jargon. Pellegrin said the hospital does have resource documents a person can readily access online so they can see what certain terms mean.Patients also may need to talk to a physician afterward in a follow-up appointment but Pellegrin said it still could be convenient for people getting frequent blood work, she used as an example.
"It does help put some of the responsibility with the patient. It helps put the information in the patients' hands so they can make more informed decisions and use it in a timely manner."PatientLink also could be helpful for out-of-town visitors. Pellegrin said CAMC treats people from all over the state and areas in bordering states."For people to not have to travel, it's still a nice, convenient way to get records and pick up records. If you're going to a specialist somewhere, you can look it up and print it out," she said.
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