Many believe that granting patients access to their medical information will lead to better quality and coordination of care. They contend that the easiest and most efficient way to provide this access is through portals. However, as in other areas involving health IT, there are challenges and fears.
Some challenges involve adopting and implementing technology or reconfiguring workflows to optimize benefits from portals. Other issues surround managing clinicians’ concerns and expectations to gain support for this new way of communicating with patients.
Fears surrounding portals include the concern that patients will be slow to use them and that those who could benefit from better access to information won’t take advantage. That worries IT executives, who fear that their ability to meet one proposed objective of Stage 2 of the meaningful use program lies outside their direct control.
Even so, as reform changes the incentives in health care, portals are expected to be a key conduit for engaging patients in their care and getting them important health care information as quickly as possible.
Scope of a Portal Project
While implementing portal technology falls within the responsibility of the IT department, many organizations now see portals as an enterprise project, involving a wide range of departments.
“It is more than an IT project,” Bero affirms. “I think it clearly falls in our clinical organization, and it’s very central to our population health activities, and helps us look at what we can do to better manage population health.”
“It’s a project for an entire enterprise,” Gary Barnes, CIO at Medical System Health Center in Odessa, Texas, said. “It really becomes a marketing tool for us, and separates us from our competition.”
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