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The Good News About Patient Portals …

Posted on January 14, 2014 I Written By

James Ritchie is a freelance writer with a focus on health care. His experience includes eight years as a staff writer with the Cincinnati Business Courier, part of the American City Business Journals network. Twitter @HCwriterJames.

I recently wrote that it’s not clear whether patient portals do much to improve health care.

Now a new study suggests they help in at least one area: medication adherence.

The research involved diabetic patients who were using cholesterol-lowering statin drugs and had registered for online portal access. Among those who started using the system’s online refill function as their only method of getting the medication, “nonadherence” dropped 6 percent.

LDL or “bad” cholesterol also decreased.

The researchers concluded that “wider adoption of online refills may improve adherence.” No decline in nonadherence was seen in patients who didn’t use the online refill function.

The Kaiser Permanente study was published in the journal Medical Care.

The study included plenty of subjects — 8,705 people who used online refills and 9,055 who didn’t. But if there’s a cause-effect relationship at work in this study, you have to wonder in which direction it might run. Might the people who tend to take their medicine as prescribed be more likely to sign up for online refills in the first place?

Still, the study is an intriguing hint that patient portals might be worth at least some of the attention they’re getting. Nonadherence to medication regimens is a huge issue for health care because of both the human toll it takes and the inefficiency it fosters in the system.

Typical nonadherence rates are in the 30-60 percent range, depending on the condition, the medication and other factors, according to Medscape. It’s especially easy to slack off when symptoms disappear.

The study builds on another piece of good news for health IT. Researchers recently found that EMRs can make diabetes care better by rendering care coordination more efficient, as Katherine Rourke wrote here at EMR and HIPAA.

Portals are, of course, experiencing tremendous popularity because they help health care providers to meet Meaningful Use Stage 2 patient-engagement requirements. But, as I wrote earlier, in a review of 46 studies related to portals, researchers didn’t find evidence for much in the way of patient benefits.

Physicians have a major job ahead of them if they’re to make full use of patient portals and receive the available federal incentives. Perhaps this study, modest as its results are, suggests that their efforts will have some benefit for the patients they serve.

 

Amazing Epic Discussion on Google Plus

Posted on August 21, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

As many of you probably know, I started a new Hospital EMR and EHR website that follows a similar pattern to EMR and HIPAA & EMR and EHR, but focused on the technology used in a hospital with the EHR being at the center (most of the times). The site has been growing like crazy with the wonderful Katherine Rourke posting most of the content.

However, one thing I found really interesting was that I took this post about Epic Possibly Being Victim of its Own EMR Success and posted it on Google Plus (UPDATE: You’ll need to add me to your Google Circle so I can add you to my EMR circle to see it. I forgot I only shared it with my EMR google circle and I can’t see how to make it public). I’ve just been dabbling around in Google Plus, and so I was surprised by the results.

In the post itself, there have been 6 comments about Epic EMR’s success. That’s really not a bad number of comments for such a new Hospital EMR blog.

However, the astounding part is that my thread on Google Plus that links to the post has already had 40 comments on it with some amazing insight from those commenting.

It’s still really early in the life of Google Plus. Maybe it’s early and the novelty of Google Plus is what’s currently providing the great discussion. I’ll have to seriously consider how I can incorporate that discussion into future blog posts.

One More Reason to Implement an EMR – Genomics

Posted on May 17, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Katherine Rourke, on my sister site EMR and EHR, wrote an interesting piece on Adding Genomic Info to the EMR. Here’s a short excerpt from the post. You should go and read the rest of the post as well.

As the author notes, some specialties have already begun to tailor drug treatments to individual patients based on their genomic profile. For example, DNA sequencing of tumors in non-Hodgkin’s and Mantle Cell lymphoma can lead to personalized cancer vaccines that can produce great results, notes writer Gerry Higgins of the NIH.

Such data can also be used for a growing number of clinical situations, such as tailoring Coumadin doses to specific patients and providing psychiatric patients with the appropriate drug.

I’d been meaning to write about genomics and EMR for a while and so I’m glad that Katherine did. In one of my more interesting discussions at HIMSS with CMO of Nuance, Dr Nick (sorry, his last name is too hard to spell), we talked about the future of EMR and the possible benefits it could provide to patient care, diagnosing, etc. Nuance had partnered with IBM’s Watson project (the famous Jeopardy Watson) to apply the Watson technology to healthcare. At its core is using technology to crunch a lot of data and provide some meaningful (sorry I had to use the word) results or information.

As this discussion progressed, I casually suggested that one day we’ll need the same sort of processing across things like a person’s genome. The genome project isn’t quite a consumer commodity, but it’s getting there. One day, it won’t be at all surprising for us to bring our PHR info along with our personal genome to the doctor’s office. The lady at the front desk will ask you for a copy of your genome. Pretty crazy to consider, but probably much closer to happening than we realize.

Imagine trying to somehow process the information found in a genome in a paper based world. Exactly! The thought is so unreasonable you have to just laugh. I don’t follow the science of using the genome in healthcare that closely, but the examples in the above article by Katherine are quite interesting.

Plus, I think we’re still in an old world mentality where the world is still flat when it comes to understanding the data that’s available in the human genome. One day some remarkable humane genome Christopher Columbus is going to discover a new world that nobody knew about before. EMR software will be the tool used by most doctors to tap into that new world of healthcare based on the human genome.

This is why I’ve argued for so long about the possible long term benefits of having an EMR. The integration of a patient’s genome into their healthcare is just one of those potential long term benefits of having an EMR in your office.