InteriorThe University of Missouri and Boone Hospital Center are making investments toward online technology geared to improve provider/patient communication in the office and out.


Online training to improve communication during appointments

From the first moment of, “How many alcoholic drinks do you consume a day?” some of us may be on edge and reluctant to talk to our doctors. We might be afraid of being judged, or we don’t even want to discuss the negative behavior with this highly educated person in a lab coat. Here’s the thing: Our doctor knows misuse of alcohol and drugs can affect our health; they just aren’t sure how to help us open up and talk about it.

MU ADEPT, Alcohol and Drug Education for Prevention and Treatment, is working to clear up the judging lab coat stigma and turn medical visits into teachable moments. Using SBIRT, a nationally recognized, evidence-based approach, the program works to put patients at ease and make them more receptive to the idea of adopting healthier behaviors.

The training is required for MU medical students, residents in several specialties, School of Nursing and social work students. The online training component is also available to the public at no charge. SBIRT training starts online with a pretraining survey and then moves into a series of videos and learning modules followed by online quizzes. At the end of the online training, students participate in clinical practice followed by a competency evaluation to ensure their newfound skills are ready for use to fight negative health behaviors and the lab coat stigma.

Boone Hospital also uses online training to keep its professionals on point. Its website,, is a center for lifelong learning providing personal and professional learning opportunities for staff.


Continued communication and education between appointments

The concept of staying connected online isn’t a new one. We’ve all used email for years, and social media keeps us even more connected than we need at times. As we turn more to the Internet for communication, it may seem odd that the only times you communicate with your doctor are during face-to-face five-minute sessions, sometimes scheduled months apart. When the doctor asks, “Do you have any questions or concerns?” patients can feel like a deer in the headlights and forget all the things on the must-ask list or successes to share about progress toward the goals outlined at the last appointment.

Boone Hospital Center provides patients with a website enrollment option. The site allows patients to access and review their information such as lab and radiology results. The website also provides secure email correspondence with the patients’ health care providers as well as helpful information about testing, health topics and other related news.

The Tiger Institute for Health Innovation was founded in 2009 as a partnership between MU and Cerner Corp. The institute initiates projects pairing health professionals with developers to marry advanced programming techniques and Web interfaces with a goal of improved patient care.

One such project, Gateway to Health, is geared toward educating patients about unhealthy behaviors they seek to overcome such as quitting smoking or lowering alcohol consumption. These patients are taken through a step-by-step process online starting with educational resources, moving toward setting goals and then recording progress toward those goals.

The doctor is automatically notified each step of the way through a widget on his or her patient chart summary starting first with a suggestion to enroll a patient based on health history. As the patient completes the educational and goal-setting components of the online program, the doctor is kept informed via the chart summary application. This keeps everyone in the loop and ready to discuss potential challenges and celebrate successes at the next appointment.


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