???Patient values should guide all clinical decisions. We???re using the CHRIS model to ensure we hear the full patient story and understand their wants and needs.??? - Mary Duranti, UPMC Disabilities Resource Center


Grant Application

Joseph Breems and Jamie Scarano of UPMC Center for Engagement and Inclusion, and Mary Duranti of the UPMC Disabilities Resource Center


Proposed Innovation

Patients want to share in their own health care decisions, but are often intimidated when asked to disclose religious concerns, gender and sexuality issues, disability needs, and other personal information. This results in patient dissatisfaction, staff frustration and poorer health outcomes. UPMC has the opportunity to provide more respectful and responsive treatment that is guided by individual values, preferences. Patient values should guide all clinical decisions.

Through this project, an online patient engagement portal called “CHRIS” is being developed for use by UPMC employees. The goal of CHRIS (Commitment to culturally competent Healthcare and improving Retention of diverse employees by Integrating dignity and respect into <strong<s< strong=””>ystem-wide practices) is to reduce patient anxiety and improve engagement so they receive respectful and responsive treatment that is guided by their individual values and preferences.


Improvements in Action

Focus groups were held with 115 representatives of 12 diverse communities in the UPMC “footprint” — including low-income/access, high-income/access, LGBTQ, people with disabilities, immigrant/refugee, caregivers, veteran/military, faith/religious, college students, rural, behavioral health, and youth. Focus group members shared their concerns and opportunities for improvement.

Based on the input of these groups, six system-wide solutions were identified, including:

  • Online portal to enter preferences, view health and wellness information, and track health data
  • Electronic reminders regarding health, wellness, and appointments
  • Opt-in model for sharing personal health information and preferences
  • Liaisons or advocates to help patients better navigate the health care system
  • Community education programs to keep patients up-to-date on changes in the health care system
  • Financial assistance program to help patients who regularly engage with the health care system


Results – In Progress

The CHRIS portal, as part of MyUPMC, will be designed as a user-friendly, flexible, and engaging online tool. It will be integrated with other UPMC web portals — including Clinical Connect and Patient Experience Advocate — and linked to guides and instructions on how to use cultural, social, and disability information to coordinate care at UPMC and at home. It also is being adapted for a pilot program at UPMC Hamot involving LUHU (Let Us Help You) patients to expand care coordination for individuals with disabilities and other diverse needs.