The 2015 AHIMA convention session, “The Importance of HIM Involvement in the Design and Implementation of Patient Portals” will take place Saturday, September 26 from 2-5 p.m. in the La Nouvelle Ballroom of the Morial Convention Center New Orleans. We recently spoke with presenters Judith Holloway, MPH, RHIA, CCS, CCS-P, and John Folger, RHIA, CCS-P, from HFS Consultants based in Santa Ana, CA, for a preview of the session.
What should AHIMA members know about patient portals?
Folger: Patient portals are secure websites that keep patients connected with providers and medical facilities. Patients can use them for a variety of purposes such as scheduling appointments, making payments, and accessing test results. These portals provide a convenient way for patients and providers to exchange messages and encourage proactive health maintenance. Thus, they should have a positive impact on healthcare. Because portals allow patients to view much of their health information, they also have an impact on HIM’s traditional role in release of information.
What role do HIM professionals play in patient portals?
Holloway: HIM professionals must be actively involved in the creation and maintenance of patient portals. Unfortunately, because portals are web-based, information technology departments are sometimes the main voice in their implementation. HIM professionals have the knowledge and experience necessary to ensure that patients’ privacy is protected and therefore they are the best-suited to resolve any issues that may arise in this arena.
Why is it so important that the public be made aware of the use of patient portals?
Holloway: Besides the benefits to patients—convenient access to information and ease of communication with providers—facilities have another incentive to spread the word about their portals. The federal government has chosen usage of patient portals as a requirement to demonstrate meaningful use of electronic health records. So any facility that either doesn’t have a portal or isn’t promoting it to their patients could lose an opportunity to meet meaningful use requirements.
What are some best practices for the development and use of patient portals?
Folger: Patient portals are a direct connection between the facility and patient. Therefore they must be convenient, easy to use, maintain the privacy of the patient, and contain accurate information. If these goals are not met, the facility risks decreased involvement by the patient or perhaps even alienation of the patient as a future consumer. Care must be taken to ensure that information from the patient problem list that is included on the portal is up to date and accurate. With the early involvement of HIM professionals, these goals are more likely to be achieved.
What are you hoping members will take away from your session?
Holloway: We hope to empower members to be actively involved in the development, implementation, and maintenance of patient portals. As the healthcare industry moves headfirst into the digital age, this is the perfect time for HIM professionals to assert themselves as indispensible members in this segment of the healthcare field.
Folger: During the session we will discuss issues critical to portals as well as ways to promote and increase their usage by patients. Audience members will gain a greater understanding of what patient portals are, how and why HIM should be involved in their development, and ways to increase their usage. Attendees can use this knowledge to help their organization inform the public about patient portals as well as meet meaningful use requirements for electronic health record systems.
To see this presentation at AHIMA’s Annual Convention and Exhibit in New Orleans this year, see the info below:
The Importance of HIM Involvement in the Design and Implementation of Patient Portals
Judith Holloway, MPH, RHIA, CCS, CCS-P; and John Folger, RHIA, CCS-P
Level 2, Room 265, La Nouvelle Ballroom of the Morial Convention Center