Geisinger, Merck roll out patient communication tools

Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger and drugmaker Merck unveiled two new tools for patients and caregivers Aug. 15.

One of the applications, Family Caregiver, facilitates communication between patients and clinicians to improve care coordination. It features a calendar for tracking appointments, a patient-managed medication scheduler and a journal tool for patients to record thoughts during each healthcare encounter. The other app, MedTrue, integrates prescription data from various national sources to improve medication reconciliation and adherence.

Both applications — which were developed under an ongoing collaboration — are embedded within the EMR and providers' workflows to enable greater use of clinical and patient-generated data during appointments.

The applications are built to abide by the Substitutable Medical Applications, Reusable Technologies guidelines available under the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources framework, an open platform for sharing data among disparate EMRs. Geisinger's system is testing the tools prior to their official launch, and the collaborators are conducting studies on the tools' real-world effectiveness.

"Providing these tools for patients and family caregivers — tested within our own system — enables patients to be more active in healthcare decisions and could increase the likelihood that patients will adhere to their treatment plans and lead healthier lives," David Ledbetter, PhD, Geisinger executive vice president and chief scientific officer, said in a news release.

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