With healthcare reform, and specifically HITECH, healthcare professionals are now giving patients’ access to parts of their health information either via printing out paper or through a secure patient portal. In 2014, an online secure portal will be required for practices to give patients electronic access to their health information to view and download. In November of 2012, Navigating Cancer conducted a survey inviting new and returning patients that have been invited to a secure clinic portal to give their feedback about their experiences and the access of their health information via a patient portal. Of the 1,220 patients that completed the survey, over 66% had already registered and joined the portal. Of the patients that did not register, many did not know about the availability of the portal and have since requested access of their clinic to be invited to their patient portal.
Overwhelmingly, the research demonstrates that an on-line portal is not only useful but the features of the portal are very important to patients managing their health care. One patient’s feedback of “about time” says it all. The majority of patients’ surveyed value the information, tools and support that their clinics are providing them with a secure patient portal and access to their health information.
Regarding access to their health information, 89% of patients receiving a clinic summary after each visit value this information and find it to be accurate. 87% of patients say it is helpful and informative. “Being a clinician, having access to my records and tests is very important to me. It enables me to be a partner in my care, and accurately share my information with my other healthcare providers and family.” said Susanna S.
The research showed that patients want more than just access to their health information, but also want personalized patient education and other tools to manage their care. Over 74% surveyed said that they will most likely read information about their diagnosis on the portal and over 57% will use the calendar to keep track of appointments and other important events. The survey also found that 83% of patients are interested in tracking their symptoms and side effects to be able to communicate with a doctor. Marie C. provided the following feedback:, “I can go back and track the ups and downs of my blood counts which I always get a copy of. Having them online makes this easier. Thanks.”
More than half of patients expressed an interest in the social tools of connecting with others, demonstrating the value of providing these services for patients. 58% of patients said they may be willing to share their experiences or participate in discussions. While a little over half surveyed would like to join a group with others of similar diagnosis.
With the new requirements, clinics have the ability to enhance their services to patients through providing an online patient portal. While security is really important to 15% of patients, accessibility was also really important. As Sandra G. communicated, “(The Patient Portal) Makes me feel like someone is really keeping track of me, little ole, me. I like the fact that it is an online history of my care that I can access anytime I want.” At the end of the day, patient care is a healthcare providers business. It’s great to hear that their perception of their care is improved through the enhanced service a patient portal provides.