February 22, 2013

The Patient Portal

This is going to be a very short post, for now. I want to talk about patient portals - health system websites for patients to log in and see their medical records, tests, communicate with doctors, or find ways to stay healthy.

I want to know what people outside the Mayo system have experienced. Tell me about the site you've used, whether you use it frequently or tried it once. What features have you noticed and tried? How often do you sign in? Is it "pretty"? That last one is a serious question.

Talk to me about patient portals. Okay, I hate the word, "portal," but I don't know what else to call it at the moment. Patient Health Record, Patient Health System, Patient Medical Records, Online Medical Records. Nothing sounds nice.


thomasyung said...

I rarely go to patient portals. When I visit any health related site, I go with a purpose. Research: symptoms, medication, doctor reviews. Fill prescriptions. Lookup and make appointments. Occasionally, I'll lookup if I have updated vaccinations, and check results of tests. However, I'd really like to be alerted with latest updates rather than me going to a website and check. I really think that the opportunities are in smartphones, sensors to inject itself into our lifestyle, rather than making it an activity that occurs infrequently. I can definitely see improvements in patient portals where gamification techniques can be utilized to persuade and change behaviors. Other than that, patient portals are rarely engaging, but more informational.

Samantha LeVan said...

Agree with all your points, especially the informational part. Portals are like transactional websites, like online banking. You go with a purpose - usually to obtain some sort of data (test results, a response to a message, appointment time). Since healthy people often don't have many appointments or tests, portals aren't valuable, so there's a missed opportunity to combine healthcare-driven wellness plans with patient portals.

Mayo Clinic released a mobile patient app for the iPhone and iPad last May and while there are some features I'm not sure belong (order print books, for example), patients seem to love accessing lab results and appointment info on the go. Lab results show up pretty much as soon as the doc sees them. I've actually been able to avoid unnecessary follow up appointments by checking my labs while having lunch out, and chatting with the doc by phone when I get home. It's pretty sweet. :)