- With MACRA and the Quality Payment Program putting more emphasis on patient access to information, patient portals offer an effective way to engage patients and improve outcomes, a new white paper by TMF Health Quality Institute says. The paper provides a roadmap for planning and launching a successful portal.
- First steps include creating a vision, obtaining provider and staff buy-in, establishing a portal implementation team and setting goal and performance standards.
- Separately, LexisNexis Risk Solutions and the American Medical Association launched the Verify Health Care Portal, designed to keep health plan provider directories up to date. The portal combines directory information with LexisNexis Health Care’s clinician database and linking technology to update provider information for quicker authentication, the organizations say.
Before launching a portal, organizations need to promote it to patients and then begin engaging them via email to access the portal and log in, the TMF white paper says, adding patients can then be directed where to find test results and other information. It reports some practices see up to 75% fewer phone calls with high portal utilization.
The paper also outlines potential ways to optimize portal use, including bidirectional communications such as enabling direct communication with providers via secure web messaging. As telemonitoring of chronic conditions grows, patient portals will also be useful in streamlining asynchronous communication between patients and their providers, the paper notes.
The CMS’ Meaningful Use requirements provided an impetus for hospitals and practices to offer patient portals, but the incentives for portal use were so low that many small practices didn't bother. Larger health systems saw the most success when portals were integrated with longitudinal care management or condition management programs.
“Where health systems start to see the portal as a way to have more of a two-way relationship between the healthcare organization and the patient, there starts to be some benefits of providing more proactive care,” Brian Eastwood, consumer engagement and consumer directed healthcare analyst at Chilmark Research, told Healthcare Dive in April.
In a recent CDW Healthcare survey, 98% of patients said they could access a patient portal, up from 60% in 2016. Seventy percent of the patients also said they had become more involved in their healthcare over the past two years, and chief among reported changes was opting to use a provider’s patient portal.