Since our inception in 2004, Hope Veterinary Specialists has been striving to provide the highest level of care to patients, clients, and referring veterinarians. Early on, we learned that the medicine is the easiest part of what we do. Effectively communicating with clients, veterinarians, and even colleagues within our own practice is much more of a challenge. Since communication is key to providing the level of care that we want to provide, we began looking for tools that would allow us to communicate more effectively. What we found was that those tools did not exist. Given that, we took on the challenge of developing our own practice management system and within that system, our own set of communication tools.
In the past, our focus was on sending information in a timely manner. We kept referring veterinarians updated by sending them each progressive record entry as that entry was made. After a patient left the hospital, lab results were sent to the primary veterinarian when we received them. Those updates went by fax or e-mail as per the recipient’s preference. Although this system is still one of the most effective available for real time communication with referring veterinarians, it was designed around technology that existed in 2005 before the first smart phone was released. Much of what is possible today was unimaginable when the system was developed. Over time, the new tools such as two-way text messaging with clients directly from the medical record were incorporated, but the tried and true methods for communicating with primary vets remained the same.
A recent trend among referral centers is the development of ‘web portal systems.’ These systems post information from medical records on-line and allow referring vets to log on and look up data. Many practices have abandoned their previous methods of communication and have limited themselves to using a portal. Anyone who has logged onto one of these systems knows that they can be VERY frustrating to use. They typically take bulk data and post the ‘blobs’ of information on the site. The primary vet is left to search for the information that they are looking for.
The idea of a web portal as a complement to the communication system that we already have in place was a fascinating one because a web portal could overcome the one major limitation of our system by making it much easier to retrospectively look at cases. That is obviously important to primary veterinarians who are following up with a patient days or weeks after they were seen. At that time, it is not helpful to look through the ‘play by play’ updates that were previously sent. The strength of our system in providing real time updates when a patient was at Hope was a major weakness when looking back at a case after the fact since it required a vet to look through many updates to find what they were looking for.
Hope has developed a new web portal system which complements our existing communication system and which overcomes all the downsides of the common web portal systems. Our new portal is available today at http://portal.hopevs.com. The system is unlike any other portal system in use today. They key features are:
1.Primary veterinarians can log on and see the record for any patient that they have referred for a full year from the date of the last visit.
2. Each entry is posted to the site with FIFTEEN MINUTES of when it was saved in our system. The entries are provided as PDFs that can easily be downloaded and imported into any medical record keeping system. They can, of course, be printed for paper records if desired.
3. The entries are formatted in a logical order that follows the flow of the visit.
4. At the end of any given visit, a comprehensive entry which contains the record for the entire visit is posted.
5. All prescription data is posted. That includes the details of the prescription, how much was dispensed, when the dispensed medication expires, and the number of refills.
6. All lab work is posted within 15 minutes of being entered in the record. For lab work from our Idexx equipment, you see the same pages and graphs that you are used to seeing print from the equipment.
7. All the images from radiographs, ultrasounds, MRIs, and CTs are available on the site. You can view animated loops of ultrasounds and echocardiograms. You can also navigate CT scans and MRIs in multiple planes. If 3D reconstructions of a CT exist, you can view the full 3D reconstruction.
8. Cases can be referred through the portal system. Cases referred to the Emergency Department appear on our triage board within 30 seconds of being submitted.
In short, our portal new portal system overcomes all the limitations of other portals and provides veterinarians with an unmatched level of access to their patients’ records. You can access the portal at http://portal.hopevs.com. Each practice has a unique username and password. Those were sent to each practice via fax and e-mail. If you need to get your credentials for the site, call the hospital at 610-296-2099 or send an e-mail to [email protected]
Our new portal is just the beginning. We are now working on the companion smartphone / tablet app. Our hope is to have all the information that is available on the portal available through that app within 6 months.
Hope has invested hundreds of hours in the development of this portal to ensure that we continue to meet the every changing and developing expectations of the veterinarians who refer to our hospital. We welcome any feedback and are always open to suggestions for new features.
Submitted by: Tom Garg, VMD