More Calif. Health Care Providers Offering Access to Patient Portals
Patients and caregivers across California are seeing "dramatic changes" in the health care industry as more physicians provide access to online patient portals, HealthyCal reports.
Details of Patient Portals
The portals are available to patients 24 hours per day and usually include:
- A summary of basic health history, including allergies, medical conditions and prescriptions;
- A tool to pay medical bills;
- A tool to schedule appointments or refill prescriptions;
- Lab results; and
- Secure messaging capabilities.
For the most part, physicians' concerns about the portals -- such as losing in-person time with patients because of responding to excessive or unnecessary communications through the portal -- have not come to pass, according to HealthyCal.
More Than 1M Patients Use Sutter Health Portal
At Northern California-based Sutter Health, more than one million patients have logged on to the health system's patient portal. Sutter uses the portal -- called My Health Online -- to email pediatric development questionnaires ahead of appointments.
Albert Chan, medical director for My Health Online, said use of the portal gives parents more time to consider their child's health and obtain additional input on their child's progression from teachers or other family members. In addition, Chan said, "Even though the time spent in the exam room was the same more or less," parents felt that the doctors devoted more time to their child's care.
Despite advances in the use of patient portals across California, some physicians have reported issues with using the technology.
For example, some providers had patients send them multiple messages through a portal's secure communication tool that were excessively long or unrelated to medical care. Some doctors also have voiced concerns that patients will use the portals instead of obtaining in-person care.
In addition, portals are not available in languages for all of the varied demographics across the state. Michelle Quiogue, a physician in Bakersfield, said expanding patient portals to include Spanish should just be the first step in making the technology available to the state's diverse population (Schmitt, HealthyCal, 9/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.