The Implications of the Patient Portal Explosion

Date: 05.15.2013 | Zach Urbina">Zach Urbina

A small fraction of physicians use a Web portal to interact and share information with patients today. But meaningful use Stage 2 requires that eligible professionals ensure at least 5% of patients view, download or transmit their electronic health records. As a result, the use of patient portals is likely to skyrocket. If that happens, experts say, the impact on health care could be quite significant.

About 20% of family physicians were using patient portals for appointment scheduling and sharing information with patients in 2010, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.

2011 study published in the journal Health Affairs found that 14% of physicians used personal health records daily and that 25% had done so within the previous month. Many PHRs are part of provider-based patient portals such as those offered by Kaiser Permanente and the Department of Veterans Affairs, but it’s unclear how many of the physician PHR users in this study had patient portals.

Meanwhile, KLAS Research recently found that more than half of surveyed hospitals, health systems and clinics had patient portals of some kind.

None of this evidence is conclusive. But for argument’s sake, let’s say that a fifth of physicians have access to patient portals. This would mean that of the 550,000 eligible professionals who can apply for government EHR incentives, roughly 100,000 physicians have portals today. Through the end of 2012, about 350,000 eligible professionals — most of them doctors – had registered for the meaningful use incentive program, according to CMS; about half of those eligible professionals had received incentive payments. If most of the EPs who have registered make it to Stage 2 of meaningful use, the number of doctors who have patient portals could triple in the next couple of years.

via iHealthBeat | continue reading

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