BBGH/GNMSS Patient Portal: What it is and why you need one
When an area resident makes a qualifying visit at Box Butte General Hospital (BBGH) or Greater Nebraska Medical & Surgical Services (GNMSS), important information is stored in the patient’s Electronic Health Records (EHR). Much of that information is available to the patient via his or her Patient Portal.
“A Patient Portal is a secure online website that gives patients convenient 24-hour access to personal health information from anywhere with an Internet connection,” explained BBGH Clinical Informatics Nurse JaeAnn Bradt. “Using a secure username and password, patients can view health information such as: recent doctor visits, current medications being taken, reported allergies, lab results (only those completed at BBGH), and discharge summaries.” Patients will also find helpful links, including ones to the Nebraska Immunization Information System (where patients can find their immunization history); reputable health information sites; medication information; and health library.
Hospitals and clinics across the nation are urging patients to utilize Patient Portals for two reasons.
First and foremost is the Center’s for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) mandate that health care services provide Patient Portals to the public to increase patient participation in care. “This information is YOUR health information,” Ms. Bradt said. “The idea behind the Patient Portal is to increase patient participation in their health care, making them part of the health care team looking after their needs.” By using a Patient Portal, patients can view and download the information provided to monitor their health and trend test results. They can also transmit that information, or print and share a hard copy, with other providers.
The secondary reason is the Medicare & Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. According to the program’s website it, “provides incentive payments to eligible professionals and hospitals as they demonstrate adoption, implementation, upgrading, or meaningful use of certified EHR technology. These incentive programs are designed to support providers in this period of Health IT transition and instill the use of EHRs in meaningful ways to help our nation to improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of patient health care.” Ms. Bradt added, “The Patient Portal is part of that nationwide push.”
So how does one gain access to their BBGH/GNMSS Patient Portal? There are two ways.
The first is when a patient visits BBGH or GNMSS for an appointment. “The Admission Clerk waiting on you will ask if you have a Patient Portal account already in place,” Ms. Bradt explained. “If not, the Clerk will provide you with a computer generated Personal Identification Number (PIN), write that number in the Patient Portal brochure and give it to you.” The patient can then go to the hospital’s website, www.bbgh.org, and access the Patient Portal in a drop down list under the “Patient & Visitors” link located in the upper left of the home page. Or, in this story, you can do so by clicking here. When on the Patient Portal landing page, click on the “Patient Portal Pin Register Link” and follow the instructions, entering a username, password, the PIN provided by the Admissions Clerk in their respective fields, as well as filling out the other fields on that page. Ms. Bradt stressed that the PIN only lasts for 24-hours. “You must access the BBGH/GNMSS Patient Portal at the www.bbgh.org website within that time frame,” she said. “If you don’t log in within that 24 hour period, you can call the hospital’s Patient Portal Helpline, 308.761.3075 during the hours of 7:30am-4:30pm, Monday through Friday, to request another PIN.”
Patients only have to use the Patient Portal PIN Register link once. After they have done so, they can use the “Log In” link below the PIN Register link for all future Patient Portal visits. “Or, they can make it even easier,” Ms. Bradt said. “When the Log In page loads, just save that URL to your Favorites Bar. That way it’s right there for your use whenever you open your browser.”
The second way to gain access is if no recent qualifying visit has been is made by a patient. In that case he or she can call the previously mentioned Patient Portal Helpline and request a PIN. The patient can also request one by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, the PIN given will only last for 24 hours and must be used within that time frame.
The Patient Portal is very secure. “It is protected with the same high level of security that all healthcare organizations are required to follow when it comes to patient health information,” she said. “It is protected with secure SSL encryption, the same security protocol that banks use to protect your financial information. Any messages you receive from your medical team exists only within your secure portal. Such information is never sent through potentially unsecure email. In addition your Patient Portal account is password protected and linked to your verified e-mail address.”
Ms. Bradt said that patients using the Portal should be aware that available information on a qualifying visit at BBGH and GNMSS is sent to the portal in the following time frames: ED and Inpatient within 36 hours; GNMSS visits: within four business days.
One final note: The Patient Portal is HIPPA compliant; meaning only the patient or an assigned proxy (spouse/child/trusted friend) designated by the patient can open a Patient Portal account. “Also, spouses or couples who share an email address cannot use the same address for their separate portal accounts,” Ms. Bradt said. “If the couple has only one e-mail account, one of them will have to open another e-mail account to register. That’s easy to do and free using such services as Gmail or Hotmail.”
To conclude, the Patient Portal is dedicated to putting patients first, allowing them to be empowered and engaged consumers of healthcare by making the information they need available on their smartphones or other mobile devices whenever and wherever they want. “We strongly urge every one of our patients to utilize this service,” Ms. Bradt concluded. “It’s a long way away, but the ultimate goal is complete interoperability, providing patients and health care providers with the means to access patient EHRs at any hospital or clinic in the country. There are a lot of issues that have to be resolved before that can happen; software compatibility to name just one. But it will eventually happen.”
Box Butte General Hospital is an equal opportunity provider and employer.