Gerdy Klein Bleumink, Information Manager at Rijnstate Hospital, recently started as chair of the Patient user group. User groups are set up by ChipSoft for and with end users of EMR/EHR HiX. Together with the other members of this working group, Gerdy strives to optimise and further develop the patient portal. She tells us about her drive to contribute to the transition towards care close to home, with more control for the patient and more effective care.

You have been working in the user group to fine-tune HiX for the past 2.5 years. Why did you join the user group? 
In 2010, we started implementing the patient portal in our hospital. When the Patient user group started 2.5 years ago, I immediately decided to become a member. I have a lot of ideas and like to work out the details, together with ChipSoft. Our user group currently has fifteen members. It’s a mixed group with functional managers, application managers, advisors, project managers, but a paediatric neurologist as well. What we all have in common is a strong, intrinsic motivation to involve the patient more in their own care process. 

What triggered you to become chair? 

When the previous chair left, I was asked to take over. That made me very happy, because as chairperson, I can contribute even more actively to all patient portal developments. I consider the patient portal an extremely important part of the healthcare of today and the healthcare of the future. We need to start moving a big part of healthcare to people’s homes. In ten years’ time, you’ll only come to the hospital when it is absolutely necessary. 

What are your most important objectives for the patient portal?

The patient portal plays a vital part in the transition towards more patient control. It is important for the patient to be well informed and to be able to properly communicate with care providers. In addition, the patient portal involves the patient more in their own health situation. For example: we want to embed an informational video into a questionnaire. A video like that will help the patient understand the questions better. Patients can also use the patient portal to communicate their measured values to the hospital. By involving the patient more, they will become more aware of their own care process and health. 

What topics is the Patient working group currently working on? 

One of the things we’re working on is assessing patient satisfaction. It’s important for us to get input from the patients themselves about the developments regarding the patient portal. That’s why we’re going to work actively on patient experiences. A meeting about that is coming up pretty soon, actually. We are also working on developments concerning repeat prescriptions that the patient themselves can request and the automatic messaging function when the medication is ready for them to pick up. Another thing we’re working on is patient consent for access to their record. The current patient portal requires patients to tick a box for every type of consent one by one, and we want to make this more patient-friendly. 

What concrete results have you already achieved?

Something I personally love is that we’re now able to use images in questionnaires. Patients can use these images to communicate where they are experiencing pain, for example. Another result is the progress bar in the questionnaire, that shows the patient how far along they are in answering all the questions. I want the user group to start working on innovation rather than optimisation. Cooperating on new developments, with a clear goal to work towards. This way, we aim to make the care portal more and more a part of the healthcare process.

How do you experience the cooperation within the user group and with ChipSoft? 

What I like about the user group is that it enables us to exchange experiences with other healthcare organisations, to inspire each other and to learn from each other. ChipSoft also learns from us how certain things work in practice, which then allows them to tailor the product even better to our care processes. I believe we are cooperating very well. The patient portal is developing very quickly. A great example of this is the COVID-19 questionnaire that patients have to complete when they go to the hospital. In the early days of the pandemic, I came up with the idea to include that questionnaire in the standard open content. And very soon, it was. ChipSoft is very willing to help. In addition, there are more and more technical possibilities with the patient portal. 

Finally: what is your personal ambition with the working group? 

As the new chair, I aim to make the patient portal more and more a part of the patient’s care process. I hope that our working group can help realise that. It would be fantastic if, in five years, all hospitals will have the patient portal as a tool for patient treatments. Together, the working group and ChipSoft are going to develop great functionalities, so that hospitals will be eager to use the patient portal, and to increase the added value for the patient.