Portals lead to positive patient engagement

laptop computer on a table

When training physicians on how to use a new tool, like an electronic health record system or a patient portal, the Colorado Permanente Medical Group (CPMG) trumpets it as a positive way to engage patients, rather than as another task on the to-do list, according to William Wright, the group's former executive medical director.

“If you just throw a computer in the exam room and tell [the] doctor to do more, it won't be effective,” Wright said in an interview with the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Instead, he said, the facility shows physicians how they can look at the screen with the patient and go over, for instance, how a cardio risk calculator works, or an exercise routine on YouTube. “Physicians can incorporate technology not as an intruder but as a facilitator,” Wright said.

He also spoke about the popularity of the organization’s patient portal, pointing out that older females are some of the quickest to adopt the tool. The portal gives patients access to test results, the ability to get information on prescriptions and allows them to schedule appointments.

A recent study published in the Journal of Internet Medical Research found that patient portals must provide more personalized, direct communication with providers and interactivity to fully engage patients.

“We've seen an increase in patient satisfaction after we opened up the records,” Wright said. “There is some anxiety about that among physicians, but I think it will happen because it's the nature of the world we live in.”

To learn more:
- here's the interview