Experts Say Current Patient Portals Leave Much Room for Improvement

Emily Brill
Published: Friday, Jun 09, 2017
Rebecca Jaffe, MD

Rebecca Jaffe, MD

For about a decade, patient portals have been hailed as the wave of the future. However, many still require some work before they reach peak functionality, partly because many patients are reluctant to use them. Although a CMS incentive program has driven patient portal adoption, it has not provided a direct incentive to make the portals user-friendly, University of Pittsburgh researchers say.


Table. How Practices Achieve Higher Patient Portal Use

Patient Portal Use

“Patient engagement has become much more important,” Seleny said. “Now that we’re moving toward value-based care, it becomes a financial requirement for the practice to do everything it can to help ensure that a patient does not go to the ED, that they have as positive an outcome as possible.”

What’s in a Portal?

In 2013, the US Oncology Network’s partner organization, McKesson Specialty Health, began marketing My Care Plus, a portal that runs in conjunction with the EHR system iKnowMed. Used by the US Oncology Network’s group of independent physicians, the portal is designed specifically for oncology and hematology patients. It includes several features common to all portals: a secure messaging service, medical records, lab results, and educational resources. Several of these features are mandated by CMS’ Meaningful Use criteria, which constituted the most significant driver of patient portal adoption in the United States, Irizarry said. The program, launched in 2011, makes up to ,000 in incentive payments available to eligible providers whose EHRs and patient portals meet certain criteria.
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