I suspect that most of us who have used a number of patient portals have found them, in general, superficial, and generally lacking is essential features, such as secure messaging, open notes, and informative visualization of time-series data (e.g., plots/graphs of such test results as trending blood counts).
A recent article, Optimizing Patient Portals in 2015 – Part 1, reports that
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.
As members of Parliament are often heard, saying, “Here, here!” For some of us these helpful features won’t come soon enough; for they are not just helpful, they are essentially meaningful.