Patient Portals in Health Informatics

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PatientPortals in Health Informatics

PatientPortals in Health Informatics

Apatient portal is a modern platform that allows the engagement ofhealthcare providers with their patients ensuring that healthrecords, test results and prescriptions can be accessed on a dailybasis. This access is highly secured with user identities andpasswords which are required to ensure access to information.However, utilization of a patient portal requires internet connectionfrom both ends. On this platform, physicians can interconnect and atthe same time share proceedings with different patients.

Patientportals allows users and patients to view vital informationconcerning their health such as laboratory results, any allergiespresent, history of medications, the number of doctor visits amongothers. Engagement with the physicians by the use of the portalsinclude booking appointments, making payments, refillingprescriptions, and viewing whatever education material that isavailable and may be importance to the patients’ health.

Onthe contrary, data obtained from the industry indicate that the usageof patient portals has remained silent. To infer from a report givenby health care informatics, a Harris poll analysis showed that from2000 polls, only 9 % take appointments that have been preset usingpatient portals, 13% use portals to book appointments while 23% and11% is used to get results and prescriptions, and refillsrespectively. To sum up the poll, a high number of 23% respondentsadmitted to be using this platform to access their updated healthfiles.

However,it should be put in light that not all healthcare organizations havealready implemented or in the process of implementing the use patientportals. According to a survey conducted by NEJM catalyst, most ofthe organizations are still in the development stages of ensuringthat their patients are ready and willing to engage in the platform.According to the survey, 88% of influential healthcare providerscurrently use or are putting in more plans to ensure patient portalsare being used.

Acritic has been presented by Brian Eastwood of Chilmark Research thatthe patient portal is obsolete which has failed to engage and couragemodification in manners. He suggests that patient portals can bereplaced with a modern engagement technology model which can providea means for tools that can be used efficiently to enable users tochoose the correct medical plan and physician among many otherchoices. Rather than the portals being tools of engagement, they onlypurport to care but are not sufficient for managing health.

Despitesuch critics, patient portals have still advantage to variousregistered users since it can be deduced to its features and servicesprovided. The portals are relatively easy to use provided one has anemail address, a phone or computer, and can access the internet. Useof patient portals can save time and resources, especially forreceptionists and physicians. However, with patient portal, medicalappointments can be made, a patient’s progress tracked, and there’sfree communication between patients and physicians especially whenpatients require confidential information. Education materials,healthcare alerts, bill payment, heath risk assessments can also bedone on the portal for primal assessment of a patient’s healthbefore further referral.

Thedrawbacks of patient portals can be captured from Eastwood`s proposaland summarized in various angles. To begin with, patient portals arenot frequently used as digital platforms. Their particular model ofengagement is not the best and also in line with what the healthcarewants to offer. The portals are more of tangled to the system ratherthan the users, and this prevents the engagement in behavior change.

Inaddition, portals can best be described as systems of record and notengagement as it should be in the case of a patient-physicianrelationship. Such a character clearly rules out coordinated carethat normally flows from patients to nurses and physicians. Patientengagement as characterized by education, activation, and empowermentto ensure a change of behavior for the better cannot be achieved onpatient portals. Interaction with community care is a factor that isnot present in patient portals, thus there’s need to move from thetraditional method to something modern, broader and more engaging.

Nevertheless,putting up a modern, broader, and more engaging model to supportpatient portals is not an easy task in itself various challengesawait such a project. The challenges include finances regarding entrypoints for the health care, inadequate resources regardinginformation technology, and an extended training period for the pilotphase to accommodate the nature of varying healthcare teams (primaryand secondary) stakeholder’s interests, and risk sharing.Structural organization in line with technology, experience, andorganizational goals are also among the key issues that need to behandled as health care look forward to match with patient portals.

Inconclusion, healthcare organizations already using patient portalsand those in the pilot stages of implementing its use can put inplace certain practices that will enable them to provide adequateservices, thus benefiting from the patient portal. Such practicesinclude making the patient first priority and ensuring it is easy forthe patients to access necessary information needed concerning theirhealth on the portal. The practice should also ensure that the portalwill not interfere with the workflow. To avoid loss of all data orleakages of medical reports, greater security should be consideredbecause of system hacking that can occur especially to a targethealthcare organization.


PatientEngagement Technology: Moving Beyond Patient Portals? | HealthcareInformatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology. (n.d.).Retrieved from

Patientportals: Essential, but underused by physicians | Medical Economics.(n.d.). Retrieved from

Ancker,J. S., Barrón, Y., Rockoff, M. L., Hauser, D., Pichardo, M.,Szerencsy, A., &amp Calman, N. (2011). Use of an electronic patientportal among disadvantaged populations.&nbspJournalof general internal medicine,26(10),1117-1123.

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