Karen Gallagher Grant has a great blog post up on the MRA Health Information Services blog that talks about the ideal patient portal. She breaks it down into 4 things that a patient portal should provide:
- Information that is meaningful
- Easy access for patient review for data integrity
- Dashboard information about prescriptions that combine pharmacy information and clinical information
- Appointment scheduling
And 5 things she’d ideally like to see in a patient portal:
- Details about my next appointment
- Wellness tips
- Access to home health through telemedicine solutions
- Customized decision support via nationwide clinical data repositories
- Patient exchange of information
I found these lists really interesting, but I asked myself “Is this what we really want in a patient portal?”
I think the number thing people want in a patient portal is access to a provider. Sure, it’s great to be able to access your paper records, your prescription history, your appointment list, and even some health information. Although the health information is never going to be as good as what Dr. Google can provide.
I was surprised that almost nothing (except the Telemedicine solution) talks about the patient portal being used to connect with the doctor. This is the most compelling reason for a patient to use the portal. They want to connect with someone. Notice the emphasis on the one, that means with an actual person. Yes, in many cases this can be the front desk, the biller, or the nurse, but patient portals see the most value when the portal is a way for a patient to connect to a person. Then, the rest of the resources become more valuable and used as well.
The problem is that most of the patient portals out there don’t do a good job connecting people. Although, maybe I’m just biased because of the Physia Connect messaging product we’ve developed and the docBeat messaging company I advise. However, seeing these two products helps me realize how beneficial it can be to make healthcare communication simple. Once we do that, it opens up whole new windows of opportunities.