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Carrie Orfus Gelkopf and her family
Carrie Orfus Gelkopf, (middle, wearing scarf) pictured with her husband and their four children, says myUHN Patient Portal “has empowered me, and by extension my family, to become partners in my care.” (Photo: Courtesy Carrie Orfus Gelkopf)

Carrie Orfus Gelkopf has been a patient at UHN since 2004, predominantly at Toronto General Hospital and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. Over the years, she says her interaction with physicians and others on her care team "has always been with the utmost of caring and respect and I have always been made to feel part of my care."

But recently, that connection has reached a whole different level. She was introduced to myUHN Patient Portal, a new digital patient experience, when she became a patient of Dr. Richard Tsang at the Endocrine Clinic at the Princess Margaret.

"It opened up a whole new world for me," Carrie says of the secure website where patients can see all of their UHN appointments, results, reports and clinical documentation across UHN in real time.

myUHN also allows patients to share their information with others such as their caregivers or family doctor.  And, it has patient education resource links to help in interpreting health information.

"It has empowered me, and by extension my family, to become partners in my care," says Carrie, a busy wife and mother of four who spends a lot of time travelling for her volunteer work in the community. "Having access to my tests and reports has been a useful tool, especially in between clinics in which I am a patient."

myUHN began with a phased rollout in May 2015. It will be available to all patients starting Jan. 30.

It's just one example of how UHN is transforming lives and communities and above all else, putting the needs of patients first.

"It has allowed me to see a full picture and plan for my care and advocate on my own behalf," Carrie says.

Dr. Tsang's clinic was among the "early adopters" to use myUHN and evaluate it.

Dr. Tsang says myUHN has transformed the patient and healthcare provider relationship. He adds that the fear of increased phone calls from anxious patients requiring more detailed explanations of test results did not materialize as he rarely received any calls or emails related to patient portal use.

Dr. Tsang says at the time of a clinic visit he always asks patients if they have accessed myUHN, and if they have, the general impression is that the visit is shorter because they know their results already.

Dr. Tsang adds that rarely have patients called and canceled their clinic visit because they have read the report in advance. He believes they still want to keep that face-to-face interaction. He's also not experienced patients asking for an earlier appointment because of something they accessed on myUHN.

"It has helped to elevate patients as owners of their healthcare process, in partnership with their providers and the hospital," says Dr. Tsang.

Dr. Tsang says myUHN has "increased satisfaction for those patients who would like to look up their results and records. It gives them a better sense of participation, and control."

Carrie could not agree more.  She says myUHN "gives me the opportunity to go back in a quieter moment and read the note and make sure I didn't miss anything.

"The portal also notifies me every time a new result, note, or test is posted. Knowing that, and the speed in which it gets posted, helps cut down on the anxiety of having to wait to see the doctor to discuss the result," she says.

"It helps to make the relationship between the doctor and the patient a two-sided one. I have emailed Dr. Tsang in the past if I have ever had a concern or needed advice, and he has always responded to me very quickly."

myUHN Patient Portal, which began with a phased rollout in May 2015, will be available to all patients starting Jan. 30. (Video: Healthcare Human Factors/UHN)
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myUHN notifies patients by e-mail when they have a new result in their portal account. They also receive e-mail reminders about their upcoming appointments.

"The appointment reminders that the system sends are very helpful," Carrie says. "The fact that I get reminders a week in advance for an appointment or to visit the blood lab helps me plan for my visit, and puts it back on my personal radar.  

"On the other end of that, I also don't have to sit in the clinic for an extended period of time after my appointment, waiting for the clinic administrator (who is often doing several tasks at once) to schedule further tests or appointments - myUHN notifies me as soon as the next appointments are made."

As preparations continue for expansion across UHN on Jan. 30, Dr. Tsang offers his colleagues two key tips to help integrate it into a clinic or practice:

  • Educate patients about how reports are best interpreted. This will avoid follow up phone calls.
  • Accuracy of documentation is key. Dr. Tsang says he's had two patients contact him to correct notes due to inaccuracy in dictation. He advises clinicians who have residents, fellows or med students dictate on their behalf are also double-checked for accuracy.

For more information on myUHN, please contact the support line at 416-340-3777, send us an e-mail at  myUHN@uhn.ca or access the website here.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @myUHNPortal​

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