269240 Patient portal training program has the potential to increase usage of the portal amongst medical practices serving underserved communities

Monday, October 29, 2012

Kristina Vasileva, MPH , Primary Care Information Project, Division of Health Care Access and Improvement, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Queens, NY
Mandy Smith Ryan, PhD , Primary Care Information Project (PCIP), Division of Healthcare Access and Improvement, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Long Island City (Queens), NY
Mariceli Comellas, MA , Primary Care Information Project, NYC Department of Health, Long Island City, NY
Background: A patient portal is a secure website through which patients can access their personal health record, send and receive messages, request appointments and prescription refills, receive educational materials, and view test results. Patient portals require activation and customization prior to patient use. A program implemented by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene offers training opportunities to medical practices located in medically underserved neighborhoods and are enrolled in a citywide EHR-implementation project. Training includes webinars and group trainings focused on utilizing and customizing EHR-integrated patient portals. If used as intended, patient portals have the potential to increase care efficiency, improve communication between providers and their patients, and actively engage patients in their care. Objective: To assess initial experience in patient portal use of practices enrolled in a training program aimed at increasing utilization of patient portals. Methods: A total of 591 practices enrolled in a city-wide EHR-implementation project serving underserved urban areas. Practices had been live on the system an average of 23.6 months. There was wide variation in patient volume (median of 4,347 patients). Results: At the initiation of the project in August 2011, patients were using the portal at very low rates. The practice-level mean proportion of patients who were web-enabled (i.e. patient portal is activated for that particular patient) was only 1.98%. Overall, 52% of practices had none of their patients web-enabled. Only 22% of patients had ever sent a message from the patient portal to the EHR. Conversely, only 22% of practices had sent messages from the EHR to the patient portal. Conclusion: The initial results indicate that there is opportunity to increase activation and usage of the patient portal by providers and patients. Practice training and technical assistance is the key to potential increase of the use of portals.

Learning Areas:
Administration, management, leadership
Advocacy for health and health education

Learning Objectives:
Assess the level of patient portal use among practices located in medically underserved neighborhoods. Identify areas requiring improvement that can increase use by additional training.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a doctoral candidate in Health Education at Columbia University. I have collaborated with academic/medical centers piloting a diabetes self-management program in New York, as well as worked on outcomes research with cardiovascular disease associated to caregivers. I work for the Primary Care Information Project at the NYC Department of Health leading several community based projects relating to the use of technology to access personal health records in primary care and behavioral health settings.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.