According to a recent report issued by KLAS Research, “Patient Portals 2012: The Path of Least Resistance,” published by HIT Trends health systems and practices are turning to patient portals more than ever before. Meaningful use is an obvious reason, but convenience and “the ease of integration that comes from having an established relationship with an EHR vendor are the primary factors providers use to choose a patient portal.”
In light of the expanding need of patient portals, the KLAS study focused on solutions that providers use, and what role the portals play in the long-term strategies each organization for patient engagement. The report included respondents from a mix of health systems, hospitals, and clinics.
“Providers are feeling increased pressure to engage with their patients at deeper levels than ever before. About one-half of interviewed providers already had a portal in place, primarily from their current EHR vendor. Providers needing to connect a number of disparate EHRs were the only group more likely to opt for a best-of-breed solution.”
“The existing EHR vendor relationship appears to be more important than any other factor when choosing a patient portal,” said report author Mark Allphin. “While functionality and ease of use are important to providers, they take a backseat compared to providers’ desire to manage fewer vendors and interfaces.”
Although many providers are choosing to stay with incumbent EHR-based patient portals, KLAS did report significant interest and engagement with third-party vendors.
Access to the patient clinical record is the most implemented function. Other functions in place or planned include: appointment scheduling, provider messaging, bill pay, online registration and patient education.
Of those interviewed for the report, 57 percent of providers surveyed report a patient portal in place.
According to Michael Lake, publisher of the monthly healthcare IT newsletter, HIT Trends sums up the report this way: “Providers are putting patient portals in place to meet meaningful use requirements for access and messaging. Some are looking at kiosks and mobile solutions, too. In single EHR organizations, using portals from their current vendor makes tactical sense. Niche solutions may fare better when providers look at long-term strategies and required functionalities.”
From my perspective, and probably yours, serious portal conversations have taken place for about the last three years, and with the mandates of meaningful use, it was only a matter of time before they started to proliferate the market.
Even as practices look to engage their patients more, portals will likely be the first tool considered to do so. As the report suggests, the biggest question here may be whether to add a portal from your current vendor or to find a third-party solution.
Are you going through a portal implementation? What’s your strategy going to be?
There’s no surprise that healthcare mobile technology is changing the industry. The movement has been underway for as long as the technology has allowed, and as the technology becomes more sophisticated, so do the ways the technology gets used.
In a recent annual research study by the Manhattan Group published by HIT Consultant, we continue to get a much clearer picture of how the U.S. physicians are using the Internet and mobile technologies in the workplace.
For the study, called “Taking the Pulse 2012,” 3,015 physicians in 25 specialties were surveyed.
Here are some of the high points.
In the United States, more than 85 percent of physicians use smartphones in the practice setting. This is up from 81 percent in 2011 and up from 72 percent in 2010. That’s 13-point jump in use of the devices in two years, but really, the number is not surprising. The devices help physicians in multiple ways, personally and professionally, there’s little doubt the increased use will continue and grow.
Next up: Tablet adoption among physicians has nearly doubled in the last years from 35 percent to 62 percent from 2011 to 2012. Clearly, that’s amazing. Of those, more than 80 percent are iPads.
Of all the tablets being used by physicians, more than half have used them at the point of care.
Regarding patient interaction and engagement, according to the Manhattan Group, 39 percent of practicing physicians communicate with patients via electronic means including email, secure messaging, instant messaging or video conferencing.
Personally, that number is higher than I expected, but it’s obviously only to grow much larger, especially as patient portals are implemented and meaningful use stage 2 looming.
Physicians also spend an average of 11 per week online for professional purposes, and those with three screens available to them – smartphone, laptop and desktop — spent more time in front of those screens than did their counterparts with just one or two screens.
What does all this data mean? You don’t need me to tell you that healthcare mobile technology is growing. It’s clearly safe to say that those of us (I’ll put myself in this group) that say healthcare is way behind the rest of society in technology use may not be able to make this claim any/much longer.
Mobile device use is exploding in all areas of our lives; healthcare is no exception. Physicians, like the rest of society, are seeing the benefits of the technology and taking steps to implement these devices into their work lives.
I believe we’re getting to the point where healthcare mobile technology will finally surpass the age of electronic health records and the shift in conversation will center around mobile health.
Like the conversations we been having for years about market/vendor contraction, the same goes for mobile health in that we’ve been talking about it for some time. Well, unlike vendor contraction, the days of mhealth are upon us and we’re seeing how a technology actually is changing a profession.