Patient portal mandate triggers anxiety

patient portals

Here come the patients, ready to engage; now what?

Stage 2 of the government’s Meaningful Use Program requires that at least 5 percent of patients view, download, and transmit their health information and send a secure electronic message to their provider. The CMS lowered this objective from 10 percent to 5 percent when it published its Stage 2 final rule.   

With the transition to Stage 2 starting in 2014, even the lowered objective spurred anxiety in the healthcare community over whether achieving the goal of patient engagement is even possible. 

“I think it’s going to be a rocky transition,” said Zachary Landman, MD, and CMO at DoctorBase, “There really aren’t too many people that are doing effective patient engagement”

Providers have, for the most part, struggled with adopting patient portal technology. But these struggles stem, in part, from a simplistic understanding of the technology.

“The idea was that if you just created it, it was a checked box: We have a portal, check” said Landman (pictured at right). 

A common thread throughout the current discussion about patient portal technology is that having a portal does not guarantee patient engagement. This stance, in Landman’s view, is in reaction to this check-box idea of portals. It reflects a conservative view of patient engagement, one that views patients as uninterested in managing their own care when they are away from a doctor’s office.

[See also: CIOs prepare for patient portals.]

This misconception of patients has, it seems, hindered the development of patient portals as the meaningful tools many expected them to be – and still believe they can be – in the healthcare industry.