Bethany Peri, MD, PhD

Improving Physician-Patient Communication

Empowering patients and their families to take ownership of their health is something Bethany Peri, MD, PhD​, (pictured on right) fully supports. As a physician and parent, she knows firsthand the challenges associated with physician-patient communication. And as medical director of technology engagement, she is dedicated to helping physicians at Children’s Hospital Colorado effectively interact with patients and families using MyChart. 

MyChart provides patients with secure online access to portions of their medical records and includes features that allow patients to request and schedule medical appointments, view test results, request prescription refills and communicate electronically with their providers. 

According to Michael Narkewicz, MD​, associate dean for pediatric clinical affairs, Dr. Peri’s approach to her patients and peers is an example for all. “Bethany has been a strong advocate for patient engagement,” he said. “She takes a great view from the patient perspective tempered by the reality of how physicians practice.”

Dr. Peri has been the physician lead in the use and expansion of scope for MyChart, which currently is not used consistently across the hospital and its clinics. 

“When MyChart was launched five years ago, it was just dropped in everyone’s lap—there wasn’t a big push for signup or education for providers,” she said.

Dr. Peri aims to help providers understand the features and benefits of MyChart through a re-launch. 

“I’m working to educate providers on why they should use it and how best to incorporate it into their practice,” she said. “Our families are already using it, there’s an expectation for us all to be online.”

She explains how a shifting culture is driving MyChart’s use. “We have a big group of providers who are ready to engage with patients this way,” she said. She explains how informal patient and family surveys have also revealed that families want to do more through MyChart and mobile apps. 

“Our patients and families use their devices for everything. They want to text for appointments. They don’t want to wait on hold.” 

Dr. Peri understands that for many providers, this is a big shift in how they communicate with patients. She recalls a recent conversation with a colleague, who explained how MyChart was a lot more work for her. 

“My colleague explained how her nurse typically calls with test results and communicates with her patients and how adding MyChart time would be more of a burden on her as the provider,” she said. “I get it. It requires a shift in how we think about our days. I explained how her nurse might spend 20 minutes trying to get a patient on the phone, when the nurse or provider could have sent the patient an email through MyChart in less than five minutes. The care team, i.e., the physician and nurse, now have 15 extra minutes to help with other priorities.”

Dr. Peri also uses an example of how MyChart can help engage every person within the family—which can happen when a provider explains something to one parent, then gets a call from the other asking for the same information. “When it’s all written down, then that information can be shared among family members without the provider needing to have the same conversation twice.”

Of course, it’s challenging for pediatric hospitals to share information with parents as they are not the patients themselves. This is why Dr. Peri and her team work closely with other leading pediatric hospitals across the nation to share best practices, brainstorm solutions to various obstacles and provide support as MyChart continues to advance. 

They also work across divisions and use various pilot projects to help with the implementation of features of MyChart. The team is working with marketing to promote MyChart, and they are putting together a complete manual to help providers understand how each feature of MyChart can be used to enhance their patient relationships and personal efficiency. 

Dr. Peri is grateful that the faculty has been so receptive to the changes MyChart represents. 

“Overall, it’s been very positive. Most providers understand that it can help directly, or at least how MyChart helps indirectly,” she said. “We know it’s hard to educate a busy provider community, so we’re working on ways to reach everyone so our providers can optimally engage with our families.”

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University of Colorado Hospital
Children’s Hospital Colorado

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