Kauno Klinikos, the hospital of the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, is the largest healthcare institution in Lithuania. It has a permanent staff of more than 4,500 doctors and nurses and each year serves more than 1 million patients. “The scale is truly exceptional, so to ensure the quality of services we opted for a non-standard solution – an e-service portal that would not only handle pre-registration to see a doctor, something many institutions have, but would also be a tool for storing and managing all patient documentation, for illness prevention and education, and for monitoring patients remotely,” Kauno Klinikos IT Department Head Giedrius Leimonas explains. Blue Bridge Code took on the challenge and created the largest patient portal in Lithuania.
Patient care practices at Kauno KIinikos were formerly no different than the typical functioning of other medical facilities. To obtain medical records, for example, or make a doctor’s appointment, you’d often have to visit the administrative office or reception desk. Getting copies of documents might mean returning several times, wasting loads of time waiting in line to be attended.
“Being ill is an unpleasant experience that’s often made even worse by medical institutions’ administrative procedures. Constant waiting in line, and making trips for various documents and questions, were wasting doctors’ and patients’ time,” says Tomas Kuzmarskas, the hospital’s Deputy Director of Administration and Development.
There was also a long-standing desire for ways to boost patients’ awareness and knowledge about their illnesses or diagnoses. As Kauno KIinikos doctors note, when patients hear their diagnosis in the doctor’s office, they often don’t ask about things that worry everyone since they don’t have any prior information and simply don’t know what to ask. Later they have to visit the doctor again or try on their own to find information, which isn’t always reliable. “We wanted patients to be able to learn more about their diagnosis at home to have their questions ready when they visit the doctor and later get further quality information about their illness and its treatments,” notes Rugilė Ivanauskienė, who heads the team that coordinates preventive programmes.
Using a component for electronic services made by Blue Bridge Code, we managed to launch the system extremely quickly – in less than a year. The full e-service portal comprises 4 external electronic services with functionality that also handles the internal management of documents. This ensures the integrity, consistency and speed of the process.
Every patient has a personal page on the portal where all the information related to the patient is collected and can be managed. It’s possible to register to see a doctor, view your medical history, and submit and receive documents electronically. There’s also legally valid functionality for patient representation. Additionally, patients get reminders about needed appointments, and when a time slot to see the doctor becomes available they’re offered to take it.
Alongside the simplified everyday procedures, tools were developed for educating patients. Based on the nature of a patient’s illness, the relevant educational materials, self-tests or questionnaires are automatically selected. This lets patients learn more about their illness and get useful advice.
One of the portal’s functions enables remote monitoring of a patient’s condition. A patient can choose to regularly submit measurements from a designated device. For example, a doctor can give a diabetes patient a device that scans data from a sensor under the patient’s skin and uploads it to the portal. Thus the patient is fully in the doctor’s care without having to go in for an appointment.
The solution went live only recently, but administrators’ and doctors’ work is already seen to be easier and more efficient. “The system’s being used to receive and send documents, coordinate directives and agreements, and countersign. We’re saving money on paper, the confidentiality of documents is being safeguarded and employees are being acquainted with internal regulations more quickly and easily,” notes Rūta Antanaitienė, the Head of the Document Management Department.
Active use of the e-service portal by patients is also expected to grow day by day. Special attention was paid when developing the system to make it user-friendly and intuitive. “Many of those who have health problems are middle-aged and elderly people who are naturally less open to new technologies. That’s why during development we conducted studies with Kauno KIinikos patients and, as a result, designed the system in light of how real patients search for information and behave as users. We’re certain that the e-service portal will help simplify the handling of patient-health related matters,” says Blue Bridge Code user interface architect Giedrius Karaliūnas.