Electronic Health Records

Integration & Interoperability News

State HIEs build their own patient portals to boost engagement

By Jennifer Bresnick

After placing first in the Patient Portal for New Yorkers Design Challenge earlier this year, startup firm Mana Health has also won the competitive bidding contract to build an innovative statewide patient portal for New York residents.  Following several other states in the quest to provide a simplified, aggregated view of patient data, the New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC) announced the partnership last week, bringing the secure portal, connected to the Statewide Health Information Network of New York (SHIN-NY), one step closer to fruition in 2014.

Patient portals connected to statewide HIEs are becoming increasingly popular with regional health information exchanges (HIE) as a way to unify disparate provider encounters for patients who may be seeing two or three providers in different locations.  While many providers have their own portals, and many more will be adding them as Stage 2 of meaningful use starts to stress patient engagement, gathering as much information as possible from multiple providers has clear benefits for patients who may not wish to juggle a handful of websites just to get to their own information.

The Kansas Health Information Network (KHIN) is preparing to launch its version of a centralized patient portal, and New York will not be far behind.  “The goal is to really help patients become more engaged in their health care,” says KHIN Executive Director Laura McCrary. “If they don’t have a place where they can see all of their health information, it makes it hard to be engaged if you don’t know your current list of medications or the results of your last test or your current diagnosis.”

“New Yorkers do everything else online. It’s imperative that they also be able to access their healthcare data online, whenever they need it. This is the most important information a person has about him or herself,” said David Whitlinger, Executive Director of NYeC.  The organization allowed the public to vote on the best designs before choosing Mana Health as the winner of the challenge, and subsequently awarded the company the contract to build the website.

“We thought it would be great as well because there is such an enormous design community here in New York City, just brilliant designers,” Whitlinger told EHRintelligence.  “Why not allow them to jump in? Lastly, we have heard from so many people who want to give and fix healthcare who might be in a completely different industry. We thought this is a way to engage them.”

As more providers start connecting to regional health information organizations (RHIOs) and the larger statewide HIEs, more patient data will be available to access through HIE-connected portals, which will benefit patients and their providers alike.  In Kansas, for example, each time a patient accesses the HIE portal, the visit will count towards the Stage 2 patient engagement requirements for every single provider that patient is seeing, whether or not the patient wanted to access his cardiology report, his x-ray history, or review his allergy list from his primary care physician.

“As everybody knows, patients see a lot of different physicians and hospitals, and any one portal is going to have low uptake and usage because the records are scattered across the community,” Whitlinger explained. “They’re all very thankful that this is coming into place because it represents a place where all of the patient’s records will be and the patient will actually find that to be useful and sticky.”

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