With the incentives in Meaningful Use Phase 2, 2014 brought patient portal implementation in many hospitals, health systems and medical practices. These portals varied in function and usability. According to a survey by HIMSS Analytics, “Patient Engagement Series: 2014 Patient Portal Study”, 62% of US hospitals utilize a patient portal and the majority of these come from an EMR vendor. Most of these portals now come with basic features: appointments, prescriptions, laboratory results and health maintenance reminders. These include not only viewing the data but also requesting appointments and prescription refills. Some are venturing into online bill payment but most outside of the patient portal.
Those who have had portals for some time are leaders in the field and innovators. These organizations are looking at customization and optimization as well as adding new, helpful features. These include:
- Secure messaging
- Open notes including visit summaries
- Problem lists
- Pathology and radiology results (in some cases, availability of some images through an image viewer)
- Discharge instructions
- Customized patient education resources
- A process for requesting correction of data by patients
- Ability to download and transmit to another provide, sometimes called Consumer-Mediated Exchange
- Entering Patient Generated Health Data either manually or from devices
- Data visualization to improve understanding of complex medical data and personal trends, such as, repeated lab values.
One indicator of the move toward optimization is the growing number of institutions replacing their patient portal solution according to HIMSS Analytics.
My next post will discuss some of the challenges in optimization of patient portals, such as cultural issues in healthcare organizations and patient literacy, and how we can address these.
HIMSS has several initiatives to support patient portal optimizations:
- Connected Patient Committee and Task Forces
- Patient Engagement Summit – February 9-10, 2015 in Orlando
- HIMSS15 – Pre-conference Symposium, Patient Experience Forum and Connected Patient Gallery
- Patient Engagement Resource Library
- Connected Patient Community – monthly webinars