The general wisdom to complying with Stage 2 electronic health records meaningful use requirements to engage patients is the use of a Web portal to support patients’ viewing, downloading and transmitting of their health information.

Portals have traditionally been driven by marketing initiatives and administrative efficiencies. “The new functionality required by meaningful use changes the dynamics,” says Edward Fotsch, M.D., CEO at PDR Network, a medical content vendor with services that include the Physicians’ Desk Reference and automated safety alerts from the Food and Drug Administration.

At HIMSS13 in New Orleans, Fotsch will present education session #132, “Turning Patient Portals into Major EHR Assets,” on March 6 at 8:30 a.m. Expanding patient services and encouraging patient engagement under Stage 2 likely means that use of a portal is mandated, but there’s another way to look at it, he asserts. “You could never run another business without proactively reaching out to clients. This is a great opportunity to take lemons and make lemonade. Patients very much want this service.”

Portals not only can give patients Stage 2-required access to their health information, but also can be used to educate patients and send treatment reminders, such as maintaining medication adherence, Fotsch notes. Further, portals perfectly support the requirement of proactive patient engagement that is central to success of medical homes and accountable care organizations. “You can look at patient portals as a requirement, but you ought to look at them as a huge asset.”

During the session, Fotsch will emphasize how portals implemented now also will support more patient engagement initiatives in further stages of meaningful use. Today, patients often don’t hear from their doctors between appointments or following a hospital discharge. As meaningful use progresses, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology will seek to change patient-physician communication from episodic to ongoing. Further, ONC also has a goal of having patients own their own medical records, another initiative that portals can support.


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