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'What myStLuke's has made possible ...'

By Dr. David C. Pate, News and Community
July 23, 2013


I have asked Dr. Marc Chasin, VP and chief medical information officer who is also serving as our interim chief information officer, to write today’s post as my guest blogger and to provide you with an update of how far we have progressed in our deployment of myStLuke’s, our electronic health record. Dr. Chasin also has provided a great example of patient-centered healthcare. Thanks, Dr. Chasin!

I recently had the opportunity to drive my three girls to sleep-away camp. There had definitely been apprehension mounting in the preceding weeks, and procrastination from me, as this was a new adventure for all of us.  

We set out on our 10.5-hour car ride to Arlington, Wash. I kept reinforcing how much fun this was going to be. I even suggested that I could stay at camp while they returned home. I wondered if I was looking forward to it more than they were.  

We had to be at camp between 9 and 11 a.m. We chose to be there around 9:30 a.m., so they could feel comfortable that there were other children there and that they weren't the only ones.  

As we pulled into camp, we were greeted by two young women. We rolled down the window and they greeted us, saying, “You three must be Sarah, Rachel, and Leah.” We were impressed that out of 70 children expected, they were able to identify my three kids.  

As we parked, we were approached by other counselors and support staff. They introduced themselves and said, “You must be Sarah, Rachel, and Leah. We have been expecting you.” As they loaded the girls’ gear to transport, they started speaking to my oldest, saying, “There are so many unique song birds here” and, “There is a volleyball game later in the afternoon.” As we walked to various registration stations, we were warmly greeted, and each staff person knew a bit more about my kids.  

My 8-year-old had been the most skeptical. As we approached her bunk, she was amazed to find that she would be right across from her older sister. By this time, my kids had all but forgotten about leaving home and being at camp for the next two weeks. And I was so pleased with how comfortable they had made my kids feel that it got me to thinking how the camp experience parallels what we are faced with in health care every day.  

We treat thousands of people every year, each an individual with a story to tell, a very important story, some fascinating, some heart-wrenching.  

This is what makes the relationship between a patient and a physician so valuable. What if we could enhance this experience in a way analogous to the experience my kids had at camp? How can we make the overall experience a comforting one?  

I feel that it all starts with a relationship. Understanding who our patients are, their values, and their story all create a “sticky” ecosystem.

Approaching and navigating a healthcare system is daunting, and can be intimidating at times. I have had personal experience of trying to navigate the system. I would say that I am rather well-versed in how the system works, but all that knowledge goes out the window when you or your loved one is ill.  

This is where I feel we at St. Luke's excel. We know our community, we live in our community, and we treat our teachers and our neighbors. We pride ourselves in being an integral part of the community we serve.  

You may now be wondering why I’m talking about relationships. As a physician and information officer, I can appreciate the way technology can improve the way we engage with our community.  

It’s been almost 18 months since my last opportunity to guest blog, and we have come a long way. We have completed our phase 1 implementation of mySt.Luke's, our integrated health record.  

The word integrated is very important. In order to build and maintain a fruitful relationship, we need to earn the trust in the care the community entrusts with us. Part of that trust is that we provide clinicians with the most timely information at the most appropriate time.  

This integration is a key component to high-quality, efficient health care. What mySt.Luke's has made possible is “one patient, one record.” As of today, approximately 70 percent of St. Luke’s ambulatory clinics are on that record.  

If you are a resident of the Treasure Valley and happen to vacation in Wood River, and you get sick, the physician you see will have complete access to your entire medical record, not a faxed copy. We have implemented this technology in Eastern Oregon, Fruitland, McCall, Wood River, and the entire Treasure Valley. Additionally, your record will be available anywhere in the United States where Epic technology is used.  

Another tool we have deployed is myChart. This is a fantastic piece of technology that facilitates patients’ communication with their physicians and allows you to receive care on your own time. So I have immediate access to my children's immunization records, as well as their most recent heights and weights.

We have about 49,000 active myChart users and we are adding approximately 30 new users a day.  

What if you receive care from a provider not within the St. Luke's Health System. Can you get access to your record?  

The answer is yes. St. Luke’s has partnered with the Idaho Health Data Exchange to build a connection to our electronic health record for clinicians not practicing on mySt.Luke's to ensure that providers can access the most accurate medical information so the most accurate diagnoses and treatments can be rendered.

Two weeks later, when I returned to pick up the girls, I sought out the camp director to better understand his system. As it turns out, he asks multiple short questions throughout the year, slowly building out his information on each child (favorite colors, interests, struggles, etc.) for a shared application that the staff reviews prior to camp. Each staff member has a familiarity with each child and can call upon the data to help make the transition as safe and comfortable as possible.  

As a physician and information officer of St. Luke's Health System, I strive to make the same true for each and every patient that entrusts their care to us. I believe that you should feel just as safe in any of our sites as you do at home.



About The Author

David C. Pate, M.D., J.D., is president and CEO of St. Luke's Health System, based in Boise, Idaho. Dr. Pate joined the System in 2009. He received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.