As we kick off 2014 and prepare for new stages in the healthcare industry, I find myself reflecting on all of the positive changes that have come as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While it is easy to get caught up in many of the negative headlines throughout both industry and mainstream media, it’s important to recognize the good that has been brought about through these recent developments. The ACA puts consumers back in charge of their own healthcare.
There are a number of benefits including the development of coordinated care, especially through Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), the implementation of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and more affordable healthcare options, and one of the most important benefits to patients is the creation and implementation of patient portals. The Stage 2 objectives of Meaningful Use, the government incentive program, focus on the effective use of online patient portals and health information exchange, meaning that portals will now play an even more significant role for all practices looking to receive incentives.
In case you’re not familiar, first and foremost, portals provide patients with first-hand, convenient access to all of their own medical records. They are able to take the reigns of their own healthcare management and access what they want, when they want, from the comfort of their own home.
A patient portal is also extremely beneficial if a patient’s care has been placed in the hands of a spouse, child or other family member. Via the portal, the third-party caretaker can access all of the patient’s records and results and truly manage their relative’s progress remotely and on their own schedule. When used properly, a portal can allow a caregiver to schedule follow-up appointments, request refills, receive test results, track patient conditions and answer medication-related questions.
Additionally, if patients wish to send specific monitoring information from devices, such as blood sugar levels or blood pressures, they can do so via the portal and have that data become part of their electronic medical record. This type of access is particularly useful for those with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and arthritis that need to be monitored on an ongoing basis. Considering that approximately 25.8 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes (according to the American Diabetes Association) and an estimated 50 million adults have arthritis (according to the CDC), these tools are crucial for successful management of these conditions.
Portals also provide convenient access to information such as a physician’s post-treatment instructions, a pre-op checklist or directions for taking a prescribed medication. Alerts and reminders about upcoming appointments can also be transmitted through a secure and confidential communication channel. Portals can also incorporate electronic payment applications to streamline the billing process for both patients and practices.
Patient portals are crucial tools in enabling each individual to take a more active role in their own healthcare. It’s important to ask your physicians if they plan to incorporate a patient portal and how you can take advantage of all the tools to ensure you’re positively impacting your own experience.
Mike Patel, CEO of Meditab Software, earned his Degree in Pharmacy from Drake University at the age of 20. With the drive to improve the efficiency of his pharmacy, he built a revolutionary system that completely digitized the pharmacy. To further improve integration and functionality between the pharmacy and the prescribing physicians, he worked with physicians to help build a more efficient software for their offices. This led to the birth of Intelligent Medical Software (IMS), a multi-award-winning, multi-certified Practice Automation Platform. Patel’s vision is Meditab’s mission; to equip healthcare organizations with the most intelligent, intuitive, and efficient single platform software solution in the industry, while always providing the most comprehensive service to clients. Today, Meditab has built a wide variety of software platforms and hardware devices for the increasingly diverse healthcare market.