Patient-centric PHR/Portals

@devincfoster sent a tweet yesterday about PHR and Portals not being unused. It went like this:

@devincfoster: PHR/patient portals go unused… How do we make it so patients & drs actually WANT to use them?

It got me thinking… I want to use PHRs and portals. From a developer’s perspective this all starts with defining requirements, but from a user’s perspective it actually starts at the implementation – when I go in and try to use it,

  • Can I get in fast and easy
  • Can I find what I need
  • Can I remember the website a week or a month later

A lot of my doctors have PHRs and their PHRs have the framework for data and functionality that I am looking for (not pretty or perfect, but it exists). What is completely lacking in all of them is any support to access it and a person ready to listen to the patient’s needs/feedback.

If I had to start building a PHR, I would start with just one function, support my patients to access the portal and use that function and find out what is important for them. Then add another function, based on feedback, and support them again.

In my opinion these are the most important functions:

  1. Make appointments – find a date and time, ask how to send reminders, allow reminders set by email, phone by voice, phone by text, letter or entry in electronic calendar (ics file). In the beginning maybe double up to make sure the channel works i.e. send a text and then call in person to make sure they got the message.
  2. Allow the patient to enter their own data – history, chief complaint, etc. Allow them to see what you already have so they don’t have to enter it twice! Allow them to add their own data: documents, scans, spreadsheets, links to their data on commonly used applications (LoseIt, Fitbit, PatientsLikeMe, etc.)
  3. Share Summary of visit and physician notes in a patient-friendly format. Tune this continually to work for most patients!
  4. Share test results as soon as they are available
  5. Send reminders for patient tasks in the patient’s desired format – phone, text, email, etc.
  6. Send information, education messages on patients desired format and through social media

If I had this and I could access the website easily and I would have someone to help me quickly with the system when I get lost I would be a happy patient!

As a developer/marketer though, who would buy a PHR with just one functionality? I think a smart hospital should invest in a slow but steady evolving PHR with lots of customer support built in…




About Ileana Balcu

Passionate about healthcare, participatory medicine, e-patients, databases, IT and Health IT, social media, communication, teams and yoga. Proudly volunteering for the Society for Participatory Medicine #s4pm

Posted on February 26, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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