Listening to the Voice of the Customer Dramatically Increases Portal Usage at MD Anderson

February 22, 2017

// By Jane Weber Brubaker //

MD Anderson

In 2002, years before patient portals were a checkbox to qualify for meaningful use incentives under healthcare reform, MD Anderson Cancer Center created its own patient portal. But the motivation was not financially driven. “Patients were walking around with huge amounts of paper. You would see people—I’m not lying—with thousands of pages of paper, walking the halls of MD Anderson, because they never knew what information they were going to need so they brought it all,” says Todd Foster, associate director of patient/provider experience. “We thought, ‘How can we make it so they don’t have to carry all of this information around with them?'”

The resulting groundbreaking solution, myMDAnderson, was launched in 2002. It gave patients a personalized electronic hub to organize all their information, and 24/7 online access. The tool has stood the test of time, undergoing major upgrades only a few times since it was launched. Today, more than 95 percent of MD Anderson patients are active portal users.

Todd Foster, associate director of patient/provider experience at MD Anderson Cancer Center

Todd Foster, associate director of patient/provider experience at MD Anderson Cancer Center

Initially, myMDAnderson was a standalone portal, because there was no electronic health record (EHR) until two years later. In 2010, the EHR was connected to myMDAnderson. The latest upgrade was last year, when the system went live on Epic. MD Anderson’s launch of Epic was far from a typical implementation. Patients liked the myMDAnderson experience so much that they did not want to replace it with Epic’s patient portal, MyChart. The Epic implementation team had its own agenda at first, which did not include introducing changes that would disrupt the schedule.

Here, we’ll look at MD Anderson’s trailblazing approach to patient-centric technology development, featured in a presentation at SHSMD 2016, “How to Make Your Patient Portal Indispensable,” and we’ll share how Epic lost the implementation battle but won the development war.

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