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Lack of interoperability stifling improvements for patient portals, HIMSS16 speaker says

By Bill Siwicki
08:11 PM
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Healthcare organizations can control what Santosh Mohan calls ‘portal sprawl’ if they cautiously navigate the complex vendor landscape to streamline the patient experience.
Santosh Mohan is a management fellow in clinical transformation in the office of the CIO at Stanford Health Care.

The proliferation of patient portals offered by provider organizations has created significant usability challenges for patients while providers are feeling pressure to integrate portals to improve service quality, enhance workflow and provide a more unifying experience to patients.

“The rising interest in and demand for patient-facing tools, especially patient portals, has attracted to the market a number of different vendor approaches and consumer-focused patient health record offerings designed to meet various situation-specific provider and patient needs,” said Santosh Mohan, a management fellow in IT transformation in the office of the CIO at Stanford Health Care who previously served as a senior consultant at The Advisory Board Company. Mohan stresses his opinions are his own and do not reflect those of Stanford Health Care.

“Interoperability challenges and the lack of a centrally envisioned strategy for making these tools available to patients are resulting in a landscape where health information is increasingly available online, but spread broadly across the portals of various care settings and organizations that own the data.”

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As a result, patients increasingly are being challenged to interact with multiple portals, often making it more difficult for them to be effective participants in their own care, and providers are facing the need to integrate portals to improve service quality, enhance workflow and provide a more unifying experience to patients in order to compete for consumers, Mohan explained.

“Curbing ‘portal sprawl’ and rethinking patient engagement techniques to bring them up to par with consumer online experiences from other industries is no easy feat – it requires providers to cautiously navigate a complex vendor landscape and carefully evaluate ways to streamline patient experience, all without compromising functionality, usage and existing levels of patient acceptance,” he added.

Mohan will deliver a presentation titled “Too Many Patient Portals – What Can You Do About It” on Tuesday, March 1, 2016, at HIMSS16. The session will be in the Sands Expo Convention Center in Galileo 1004.

“My session’s objective is to surface some emerging approaches that provider organizations are pursuing to integrate patient portals across various care settings within their enterprises, and to weigh the pros and cons of these approaches,” Mohan said. “This is a roundtable session, so I will get participants to share their challenges and goals with respect to their portal-related efforts and to surface some best practices. The goal is to discuss how we can make portals accessible in a meaningful way and be effective at the same time.”

Mohan suggested one big takeaway from the session will be attendees gaining a better understanding that organizations should plan portal strategies for the long-term but remain flexible in the near-term.

“The immediate value of offering a quick, integrated view of a patient’s health profile must be balanced with the ultimate goal of morphing a portal into an advanced and engaging tool for the patient,” Mohan said. “Ultimately, a portal should act like a health-GPS, providing patients with situation-relevant content, navigating them back to health, and helping them stay on course. The challenge for provider organizations is how to bring this vision to life.”

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT


This story is part of our ongoing coverage of the HIMSS16 conference. Follow our live blog for real-time updates, and visit Destination HIMSS16 for a full rundown of our reporting from the show. For a selection of some of the best social media posts of the show, visit our Trending at #HIMSS16 hub.