Cardiac device patients should lead patient portal adoption

I have previously focused on issues specific to patients with implantable cardiac rhythm devices who deserve to access their device’s own data directly via patient portals or PHRs.  What I would like to suggest is that if this PHR becomes a reality soon, that it will lead to widespread adoption of patient portals in general. Remote monitoring of implantable cardiac rhythm devices was the first widespread use of remote patient monitoring.  It was adopted slowly for many reasons.  However, early demonstration of its merits (increasing provider efficiency, cost reduction for providers. patients, and caregivers), as well as other studies showing clinical benefits and improved post-market surveillance of devices and leads resulted in mass acceptance.

Publicity about these portals bringing vital information which will improve healthcare of cardiac device patients will foster awareness of patient portals in general. Cardiology is a high-profile section of medicine because of the prevalence of heart disease (number one killer of men and women in the USA), the economic resources it utilizes (estimated 40% of Medicare dollars), and an area of significant health care technology development.

Social media discussions abound now about patients demanding direct access to data provided by their implantable cardiac devices. These portals will therefore be meeting a ready-made need, and will therefore, I believe, be adopted fairly rapidly.

Technological considerations in developing these portals can be applied to other patient monitoring technologies.  This might be analogous to offshoot technologies developed during the quest to land men on the moon.

The importance of the creation of these specific portals is that it has been driven by patient demand as well as regulatory mandate.  PHR adoption has been slow because of lack of technology in many EHRs, lack of patient demand in general (likely due to lack of education about their rights to EHRs), and a possible medical cultural conflict of interest where providers are not prepared to deal with the reaction of patients who receive their EHR (time consuming follow-up questions, explanations, challenging factual correctness, etc).  The relatively small size of the cardiac electrophysiology community of providers and patients lends itself to being a showcase of navigating through the education and adoption process of all stakeholders, and provides a fertile ground for solutions to technical challenges involved as well.

Stay tuned.

David Lee Scher is a former cardiologist and a consultant at DLS Healthcare Consulting, LLC.  He blogs at his self-titled site, David Lee Scher, MD.

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  • Chris OhMD

    Great article. The following is my recent blog on Linkedin:

    Next step for healthcare IT – integrate patient portal with social media

    Social media for healthcare is
    gaining popularity as physicians and patients connect in different ways
    online. New sites such as healthtap are doing well catering to specific
    niches for both the consumer and healthcare providers. Facebook and
    twitter as well as Google+ are gaining popularity among practices. It’s
    almost as is you need to be socially “active” to have a vibrant
    practice.

    But what about the patient portal? The word “EMR” and” patient portal”
    usually does not bring on the same level of enthusiasm from physicians
    because the overall sentiment is that these have been “forced” onto
    healthcare providers by regulators. Many practices are still in the
    process of transitioning and finding ways to benefit from EMRs. I am one
    of the early adopters of EMR and see tremendous benefits. In fact I
    embraced the EMR movement much earlier than I did the “social media”
    movement for healthcare.

    Now I would like to see the two become one. What differentiates messages shared through EMR/PtPortal Vs social media?

    1. Confidentiality of information (are you relaying patient labs?, renewing Rx?)
    2. Uni/bidirectionality (are you blogging to general public or asking a patient specific question? or is it an appt reminder?)
    3. Is it for existing or new/prospective patient (is it a marketing tool?)

    I would like to see an EMR that allows social media functionality so
    that once the physician has answered 1-3 questions he/she can send them
    directly from the EMR. i.e. the EMR should be able to do everything –
    manage existing patient care as well as social media. I should be able
    to blog to my website from my EMR which then posts automatically to
    facebook, twitter and Google+. Technically this is not asking for too
    much.

    What about the other way around? Can a new SoMe startup come up with
    ways to integrate patient portal functionality? May are trying – zocdoc
    for e.g. has gotten quite a bit of funding and it still amazes me how a
    company that only schedules appts for patients can do so well. However I
    think this will be short lived.

    I think it is much easier for EMRs to move into SoMe market than the
    other way around, but I don’t see them interested. Does anyone know of
    EMRs that have SoMe built in funtionality?

    Chris.

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