Patient Portals – Going beyond Meaningful Use

As the final rules to support Meaningful Use have been clearly defined, it is guiding everyone to patient centered healthcare. Patient Portals are making it possible through real time communication solutions and efficient health information exchange.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Patient Portals could eventually evolve into personalized Facebook-like platforms for doctors and patients. Two-way messaging and content sharing is already on the go but there is fear of data breaches and privacy infringements which is holding its integration in a more collaborative style.

On the surface, it seems that Meaningful Use measures are designed specifically to set right Electronic Health Record systems (EHRs) implementation but many of its core and menu objectives cannot be met without using Patient Portals.

For instance, one of the Meaningful Use core objectives requires that providers supply their patients with an electronic copy of their health information upon request, within three days. On the other end, HIPAA privacy and security requirements want this electronic information exchange encrypted and following safety instructions. Patient Portals serve this purpose by empowering patients with real time access to their health records. Let us preview it in a loop by comparing features of a Patient Portal and Meaningful Use objectives.

Patient Portals and Meaningful Use in the loop

Providers can share with the patients electronic copies of health literature and send them online test result reports via Patient Portals. Likewise, one Meaningful Use core objective requires submitting a summary of more than half of the clinical visits in three business days. Patient Portals that are well integrated with EHR and EMR systems update it automatically; and a patient can view a summary of these visits.

Patient Portals have intensified the urgency level required in critical situations and fatal diseases; patients are notified immediately about follow-ups through alerts and reminders.

Patient Portals are outperforming Meaningful Use objectives.
Patient Portals endure the convenience of work at flexible hours. Patients can send appointment requests and a summary of their symptoms while providers can schedule the appointment and ensure that the clinical resources are in place ahead of time. Moreover, prescription renewals and refills used to involve telephone calls and faxing on both ends. The process has been made easier by Patient Portals where the providers review and authorize the refill request online. Another perk to the Patient Portal is that patients can pay using their credit or debit card allowing them to remain up-to-date on payments and current balances. There is a lot more to expect from this promising technology, this is just the beginning.