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The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Jennifer Wohlwend, senior analyst at Parkview Regional Medical Center,helped establish the hospital's online record system.

Sunday, June 24, 2018 1:00 am

Nurse brings doctor visits into digital age

Parkview using virtual program to help patients

Janet Patterson | For The Journal Gazette


Name: Jennifer Wohlwend

Age: 45

Job Title: Senior analyst, MyChart Virtual Health

Background: Wohlwend earned an associate degree in science from Vincennes University and a certificate in practical nursing from Ivy Tech. She is a licensed practical nurse who has additional training in the Epic technology for Parkview's virtual health system.

The thought of nurses working in a hospital often leads to mental images of them wearing scrubs going about their daily rounds, caring for patients and charting their progress on paper and computer.

Jennifer Wohlwend proves that both health care and nursing have changed.

Wohlwend's nursing experience led her to the position of a senior analyst for the Parkview Regional Medical Center's online record system, MyChart.

“It's a different kind of patient care,” Wohlwend says.

After years as a nurse in a doctor's office, she moved into the information technology side of helping people participate in their own health care, the latest trend in medical practice.

Wohlwend began her career as an allergy nurse after graduating with an associate degree in science from Vincennes University and nurse's training at Ivy Tech. After earning a nursing certificate, Wohlwend plunged into the world of patient care.

“I worked for Indiana Medical Associates, where we had five specialties. So I got to see lots of different aspects of patient care in an office setting,” she said.

Along with caring for patients in the allergy clinic, Wohlwend was involved in the other specialties, including gastroenterology, where she assisted with procedures such as endoscopies and colonoscopies.

“I was right there where all the magic happens,” she said with a smile.

When Indiana Medical Associates was acquired by Parkview Health in 2010, Wohlwend became a clinical supervisor, later moving into the development of the computerized charting system. Using software called Epic, Wohlwend and others on the development team worked on how to turn traditional charting that was seen only by medical professionals into a website available to health providers and patients.

“Our job was to figure out how to integrate a paper chart to data,” Wohlwend said. “What questions would we ask?”

The goal was to not only help the health care provider gather patient information, but to better help the patient understand the care received. A byproduct was saving time and paperwork for both.

Before the implementation of MyChart, patients had to fill out numerous forms about their medications and health care history before seeing a doctor in the Parkview system. Those using MyChart, Wohlwend said, complete forms online once and then only have to update when they see another doctor or return to their own physician.

“They don't have to fill out the same forms over and over again,” she said. “You don't always have to rewrite that list of medications or surgeries.”

Another advantage is that after seeing a health care practitioner, there is a summary of the visit in the patient's records.

“It helps with remembering the conversation or the instructions after the visit is over,” Wohlwend said.

In addition, test results, with links to explanations, reminders about flu shots and routine tests along with the ability to schedule appointments are part of the system.

Even though MyChart has been functioning since 2012, Wohlwend's technological nursing did not end there. Her job is to continue improving the patient and provider experience. The system had at least 165,000 active users as of May.

“We learn something new every day from the feedback people give us.” One of the most used features, she said, is the messaging feature that allows patients and practitioners to communicate through the website and the mobile app.

Wohlwend and her supervisor, Laura Dubay, have been working together since the earliest days of the development of the virtual health program.

“One of the things that I appreciate most about Jennifer is her ability to work across teams and to bring everyone together,” Dubay said.

Wohlwend, she said, is “solution-oriented” and looks critically at situations and weighs what can be done. “She takes a calm look at problems and comes up with answers that can be trusted.”

Wohlwend said her experience as a nurse and a patient enable her to analyze ways people can use the virtual health system.

“Patients can become a part of their own care,” she said, adding when that happens, people stay healthier or recover from illness or injury more quickly.