Electronic Health Records

Selection & Replacement News

ONC mHealth grant helps Ga. cancer patients coordinate care

By Jennifer Bresnick

Cancer patients in Rome, Georgia are getting some new tools to help coordinate their care and access their EHR information thanks to a $1.7 million grant from the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC).  The MyJourney Compass program is operated by the Georgia Department of Community Health and uses tablets and mHealth apps to foster collaboration between caregivers, help consumers navigate through the system, and provide feedback to providers about their progress and changes to their health.

The confluence of mHealth, accountable care, and health information exchange provides a unique opportunity for patients and providers to stay connected in a holistic way.  Based on Google’s Nexus 7 tablets, MyJourney Compass provides a suite of apps to participants receiving care at a coalition of regional cancer centers, primary care providers, and hospitals.  Through the Georgia Health Information Network, patients and providers can exchange secure emails, view records, and participate in a symptom tracking service that asks for patient updates when changes are made to medication regimens or treatments.

“This really has the potential for making people’s lives better through education and knowledge, which empowers people.  Doctors know what they need to track, and when the patients report in periodically, there can be an intervention early if there is some deviation from what’s expected,” said Phil Lamson, a healthcare consultant with Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. “If more frequent communication between scheduled appointments prevents a trip to the emergency room or admission to the hospital, that’s a big benefit for everybody.”

The program is one of ten ONC challenge grants awarded to communities across the nation, and has enrolled 25 patients so far.  Lamson anticipates adding another 100 breast cancer patients as the program continues, and envisions that the methods showcased by the program could be expanded to aid the management of chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.

Rome was chosen for the grant due to its well-coordinated and cooperative provider community, says Gena Agnew, president of the Northwest Georgia Regional Cancer Coalition.  “Everyone is amazed at the level of cooperation in our community.  Here we have a private physician’s clinic with a standalone cancer center, a private and public hospital, a group of patient navigators and the NWGRCC. The cooperation is so well known that we were the first community considered for participation in this.”

“The MyJourney Compass project is empowering patients to become actively engaged in their care, an important requirement of our consumer-focused State HIE Challenge Grants,” said Kory Mertz, challenge grant program manager at the ONC. “The work in Rome will serve as a model to other patients, providers and communities across the country on leveraging health information technology to engage patients in their care.”

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