Re-Designed Patient Portals: A Boon for Patients and Providers

By Gloria D’Souza, RHIT

Patient portals allow for patients to connect with their healthcare providers in a secure fashion via the internet. Customized to the user’s personal health needs, MyChart has been released with a new and improved design. The top of the patient portal interface shows them the most important health information based on their needs. Scrolling down, the patient can view secondary information and dependent family members information that have been connected to their portal. The new design implements functions that centralize the accounts and make them less cumbersome to navigate. MyChart no longer serves as only an app to view lab results or their EHR, but as a central care management point for the patient.

Through this re-designed patient portal, patients can interact with their provider, view and update medical records, keep track of appointments and prescriptions, access educational materials, and more. Exchange of patient information can occur with ease among various providers—including hospitals, primary care physicians, specialty physicians, pharmacies, and laboratories leveraging the interoperability.

According to a recent article in Patient Engagement HIT News, Epic re-designed the MyChart portal because “Patients want to see all of their data in one place, be able to make decisions about their care, and complete other health-related tasks all in one centralized location.” A specific feature of the MyChart portal brings personalized alerts to the top, based on the patient and their family members who are part of their portal (i.e., children or an older parent). Some great examples of these alerts were given:

For a middle-aged man newly diagnosed with diabetes, the alert might walk him through how to check his blood sugars.

For a young, expecting pregnant woman, that alert is going to look a little different. It might give updates about what her baby might look like—“your baby is now the size of a banana”—or give her mindfulness exercises that reduce stress and make for a less complicated pregnancy. (Patient Engagement HIT News)

As per the article in the Patient Engagement HIT, Patient Portal has its own pros and cons, benefits and challenges. Understanding some of today’s challenges during the Coronavirus pandemic, the patient portal has been playing a vital role in providing fast medical information between the patient and their providers. Patient portal is especially important in connecting to their healthcare providers, scheduling their upcoming appointments and accessing their covid-19 test results while maintaining social distancing during the lockdowns.

Pros

  1. Fast and reliable communication with the patient’s provider- The ability to communicate with their providers through secure messaging and reducing the time on the phone and unnecessary trips to the clinics or hospitals. Just as Telehealth has become a prominent and safe way to communicate through video with their respective providers while maintaining social distancing during the pandemic.
  2. Able to view complete and accurate health information Patients and providers likewise can view the accurate health information after their clinic appointments, respectively. Patients can also identify any inaccurate or inconsistent information in their health records and can message their providers. This will create more complete and accurate data and improve the quality of care. Through the uniform application of Mychart by Epic, patients can have access to their health record from multiple healthcare organizations. This in turn reduces the duplication of the EHR of the patient receiving care from multiple organizations.
  3. Able to pay your bills – Through the app, patients have access to estimate for procedures and make payments as well. 
  4. Ownership of their health care records on their mobile phones- Patients can have their medical health records through the Patient portal account anywhere while they are travelling distant places away from their hometown. This portal can be the fastest means of continuity of care universally whenever there are health concerns.

Cons

  1. Healthcare information security concerns – While it has been viewed currently as a good factor because patients do have the right to see their own healthcare data, it also opens the door for the security concerns. However, with appropriate safeguards and HIPAA regulations, these concerns can be kept at a minimum.
  2. Patients are skeptical of using the technology – There are some patients who are still reluctant to use this portal to speak directly with their providers. Some do not have online medical record accounts because they do not have internet access, and some have privacy concerns.

Very recently as a matter of fact, healthcare providers have been asking patients to avoid calling the provider directly about COVID-19 vaccinations, due to the need for phone lines to be available for others seeking treatment, and instead encouraging the use of a newly improved patient portal, “MyChart”. Patients who have a MyChart account and are eligible for a vaccine can book an appointment. Patients who do not have a MyChart account are encouraged to sign up nonetheless. Those who are eligible for the vaccine but are not current patients can also create a MyChart account to see available appointments.

Related Resources

Behind the Scenes of Epic’s User-Centered Patient Portal Redesign. Patient EngagementHIT, Published January 4, 2021. 

What are the Top Pros and Cons of Adopting Patient Portals? PatientEngagementHIT. Published February 22, 2016. 

Understanding covid-19 vaccine criteria. (n.d.). Retrieved February 05, 2021.

Five Key Features to Look for in an EHR Patient Portal.

 

About the Author

Gloria D’Souza, RHIT, is a Data Integrity Specialist at HSHS St. Vincent Hospital. She is an active volunteer on the WHIMA Membership Engagement Team.

Gloria can be reached at:
Gloria.Dsouza@Hshs.org
http://linkedin.com/in/gloria-dsouza-343a87ab