Portals | MD's - Part 2 - The Patient Centred Approach

written by Dr Johann Schreve

Circulating Knowledge

Overview

Patient portals are now part of the digital patient management era and I thought that it would be a good idea to do a 5 part series around this controversial topic. 

Introduction to the Patient Portal


I go over some of the elements captured within the patient portal.

The Patient Centred Approach


 

I discuss the core reason behind the patient portal.

The Physician and the Portal


 

I discuss the physician’s role in making the portal successfull.

The Portal: Flow and emotions


I explore the core of the portal and how information flows through the specific levels of care. I also explain some of the emotions that drives certain patient behaviors and how you as physician, can direct these emotions.

Future Integrations


 

I go over some of the more futuristic ideas around the patient portal.

The Patient Centred Approach

The medical record was always owned and operated by physicians. With the enhancement in web security, corporations that host these programs, were able to develop an extension of the record, that enables the patient to view the documentation by logging in to a secure network. This extension allows the patient to see the information that is only relevant to them and yields, The Patient Portal

The main reason for developing these portals is to enhance patient autonomy in managing their own health. Some will argue that documentation within the portal is written in medical terminology that often creates unnecessary anxiety and confusion. I agree, but patients are quick to recognize their limitations and will often discuss this with their primary care provider, which does open the door for collaboration regarding their health.

Portals are set up to send out a text message or email to the patient when new reports or results are available within the portal. I personally find this notification system extremely beneficial as the portal becomes a live ecosystem that wants to be explored. 

The idea that patients have total access to their records might be scary for most physicians, but patient focus groups showed that patient portals creates trust amongst users, regarding their health providers. With access to information all around them, patients are keen to look up abnormal results and although it can create that anxiety that I referred too earlier in this article, it does provide them with choice to consult a physician or nurse practitioner.

Vulnerable Patient Populations

I want to mention vulnerable patient populations when I discuss the patient centred approach, as I think that they are most likely to benefit most from the patient portal.

Let’s look at the reality when it comes to patient access to healthcare in British Columbia and Canada. We notice that the traditional family physician is slowly going extinct and with them access to primary healthcare.

There are multiple reasons for this phenomena, that I would comment on in a later post, but as a result many patients are forced to use Emergency Departments and Walk-in clinics as their primary healthcare provider. Although these facilities are able to provide some form of primary care, they are not geared to build a sustainable therapeutic relationship.

In my opinion, The Patient Portal provides this particular patient with the ability to access their records and develop a suitable plan to find the answers when they are needed. With mobile technology now readily available to anyone, patients are able to present the physician with their reports and travelling or in the event that they need to access some form of care.  

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