The patient portal—whose hallmark is direct consumer access to a provider EHR—can build many bridges between physicians and the public they serve.

For a portal to catch on, health care organizations should focus on two key areas, says John Moore, founder of Chilmark Research, which tracks the health I.T. industry. First, says, Moore, the portal needs to be promoted by physicians. “Physicians need to talk it up during the visit as a great way to interact with the practice,” Moore says. Second, the portal needs to give patients access to a handful of transactions and services they find most valuable, Moore says. These include access to lab results, the ability to request appointments, online bill paying and access to their own record. “This is the real basic stuff patients want to do online with physicians,” he says.

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