Healthcare must move past outdated patient portals

Computers connecting

Photo credit: Getty/TCmake_photo

Consumer engagement efforts must move to a more innovative place than where patient portals are today, and that means creating a platform that reaches all patients, according to a new Chilmark report.

Healthcare organizations and other stakeholders must work together to take engagement solutions out of silos, the report says. In addition, such platforms must also take into account the many places in which patients receive care, both inside and outside the home.

“It’s about taking a holistic approach to engagement, providing solutions tailored to helping consumers solve their unique healthcare problems and achieve their unique health and wellness goals,” report author Brian Eastwood writes in a blog post.

Current patient portals are insufficient, noted the report, because they focus only on single, billable encounters and not the ongoing process of coordinated care; they often don’t include non-clinical data, such as social, environment and genetic factors; and they capture data only at the point of care, which leaves out employer health risk assessment information or pharmacy data.

However, there are also challenges to moving beyond today’s portals, including limited IT resources, issues with collecting necessary data, and an entrenched resistance to change in the industry, among others, according to the report.

To make a system that truly incorporates all the needed elements, there are a few key considerations for vendors and providers.

New models need to stand on their own and not be tethered to a single clinical system, they should integrate with solutions already used by care teams across the care continuum, they must make full use of application interface programs and they must work with mobile devices, the report says.

“These models will help vendors make informed decisions about what functionality to focus on, which HCOs to target, and how to cultivate partnerships that will advance consumer engagement from single care episodes to the entire care continuum,” according to the report.