Patient Portals and Meaningful Use

Meaningful Use Stage Two rules are in effect, and dentists considering applying need to know what the changes are. It’s been a month since the ONC and CMS revised the MU2 criteria–in particular, the Data Element Catalog was revised, changing some of the measurements and data that must be recorded and reported. The Data Element Catalog (DEC) contains meany measures, but much of the attention in the news has been on one particular component: providing clinical information to patients online, and having those patients access the information.

This particular criteria requires some form of online patient portal, and then unique patients must use that portal. That online engagement demands information technology infrastructure, and not all organizations have patient portals (about half of physicians [Mosquera, 2013]).  For organizations and practices that do have patient portals, most are sticking with their existing EHR vendor’s patient portal (KLAS, 2013):

“The existing EMR vendor relationship appears to be more important than any other factor when choosing a patient portal,” said report author Mark Allphin. “While functionality and ease of use are important to providers, they take a backseat compared to providers’ desire to manage fewer vendors and interfaces.”

However, third party vendors for patient portals are also generating interest. As patients actually start using the portals, ease of interaction and features may become more important. Dentists considering moving on to stage 2 meaningful use attestation will want to consider whether or not a current relationship with a software vendor is the way to select a portal, or if some of the up-and-coming newer entries to the market have unique capabilities that will increase patient retention and satisfaction.

Lessons Learned:

  • Patient portals are part of meaningful use stage 2 reporting criteria, including not just making them available, but unique patients using those portals to access information.
  • Most physicians who have patient portals currently use their existing software vendor, but interest is growing in third party patient portal providers.

Mosquera, Mary (2013) MU Stage 2 sparks patient portal market. Healthcare IT News, Jan 2. Last Accessed 1/6/2013: http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/mu-stage-2-sparks-patient-portal-market

Mosquera, Mary (2012) ONC, CMS revise EHR Stage 2 rules. Government Health IT, Dec 5. Last Accessed 1/6/2013: http://www.govhealthit.com/news/onc-cms-revise-several-ehr-stage-2-rules

KLAS (2013)  Convenience Drives Providers to Choose their EMR Vendor’s Patient Portal. Jan 2. Last Accessed 1/6/2013: http://www.klasresearch.com/news/pressroom/2013/PatientPortals