Electronic Health Records

Adoption & Implementation News

Myriad Resources Devoted to Patient Engagement Improvements

By Vera Gruessner

The healthcare sector and world at large is moving farther away from paper-based sources of information to digital communication. More and more patients are now using portals to access their own medical records. Patient engagement is a key endeavor for the healthcare industry.

The Wall Street Journal reports that patient portals enable patients to securely message their physicians, schedule appointments, view laboratory test results, and even refill their prescribed medications. Additionally, the OpenNotes pilot programs are assisting about five million patients throughout the US by enabling them to read their doctors’ notes through their portals.

Author Dr. Robert M. Wachter explains that, while many were concerned that patient portals would lead to confusion or even depression among patients, early results show that the opposite may be true.

The OpenNotes pilots, for example, allow patients to catch any data errors and creates a greater self-care environment. Doctors’ fears of the program causing time delays and conflicts with patients were also unfounded. As more technology companies enter the market, patient portals are expected to become more user-friendly and refined.

The healthcare sector is only steps away from ensuring that medical records from a variety of hospitals and providers are seamlessly integrated into patient portals. Wachter goes on to predict that telemedicine tools will also be incorporated into these portals.

Patients will more often visit their doctors virtually and a copy of the recorded video will be stored privately and securely on their portal system. Both doctors and patients will be able to review this video at any point in time. The portals will also include educational resources, reminders, and other wellness-based encouragement tools, Wachter explains.

Additionally, there’s hope that patient portals will be able to provide information on billing including how much a certain test or treatment costs and how much a health insurance plan will cover it.

Patient engagement efforts are being pursued in healthcare organizations across the country. For example, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation bestowed a grant to Partners HealthCare in order to develop and promote an ‘Engagement Engine.’

This technology would enable the use of health and activity trackers, which promote engagement with physical fitness. Essentially, the ‘Engagement Engine’ will promote better patient health outcomes in the overall population. Encouraging consumers to integrate mobile health and wellness technologies could help improve population health standards.

“Better understanding of preventative care is extremely important,” Kamal Jethwani, MD, MPH, Senior Director of Connected Health Innovation at Partners HealthCare, said in a public statement. “Our patients are also consumers, and this engagement tool will allow us to interact with them in a new way, helping prevent the onset of chronic disease by enabling them to adopt healthy lifestyles.”

Big data analytic tools will be integrated into the ‘Engagement Engine’ to provide customized feedback among users. These type of developments are going to play a major role in expanding patient engagement among the healthcare sector over the coming years.

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