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Survey: Patient Portal Usage Growing Despite Reservations

October 28, 2014
by Gabriel Perna
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A new survey of hospital and healthcare IT executives reveals that adoption of patient portals is growing even if they aren’t sold on the benefits of these engagement efforts.

The survey, conducted by the Chicago-based Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS) Analytics, reveals a positive picture of the patient engagement requirements of Stage 2 meaningful use which require eligible hospitals and eligible providers to have five percent of their patients view, download, and transmit (VDT) their health data. More healthcare provider organizations are adopting patient portals, much of it facilitated by the electronic medical record (EMR) vendor.

“Patient engagement is more than just today’s hot topic – it is foundational to the future of healthcare,” HIMSS Analytics research director, Brendan FitzGerald, said in a statement.  

Despite this, IT leaders are still not sold on the benefits of the patient engagement and specifically, the VDT requirement. HIMSS Analytics found that cultural issues were the biggest challenge to healthcare organizations’ patient engagement initiatives.  The authors of the report say this is disconcerting because leading an effort they find difficult to support typically lies outside of an IT leader’s domain of experience/expertise and can be extremely difficult.

A number of surveys and studies have relayed the challenges that providers are facing when it comes to those Stage 2 VDT requirements. Only one-third of patients currently have access to a patient portal, while two-thirds either do not have access or are unsure, according to a survey from the Austin, Tx.-based PM solutions resource Software Advice. Technology Advice, a consulting firm to potential software buyers, also confirmed that patients are unaware of their portal options.

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