New York might be at the forefront with its state-run patient portal, but not even every major center in New York participates, creating a gap in access, he noted.
Explore This IssueFebruary 2015
At Bronx Lebanon, patient use of the portal was limited, he said, in part because many patients thought it was “a way to collect money, and to divorce the money aspect from the healthcare aspect is difficult.”
So, he said, the idea of total access is very much still a work in progress. “I really do believe that transparency is the key with good practices,” he said, “and ultimately the more transparent we are as healthcare providers, the better it is for our patients and the more people’s interests potentially can be aligned.”
Steven Chaitoff, head developer at Hyrax Inc., which created the My Medical personal health record app for the iPhone and iPad, said that closed, proprietary systems specific to individual health systems are likely to open up in the years to come. “The Cleveland Clinic has a proprietary system. It lets people log in to a Web-based portal…. But you’re sort of locked in, right?” he said. “What I would love to see is where you can have My Medical automatically sync to the Cleveland Clinic, with other hospital systems, and everything sort of works together.” While he doesn’t see this happening in the near future, he said he sees a definite trend in this direction.
Dr. Steckowych, who has provided a Web-based patient portal for 14 years, is relieved to see more uptake, even though the healthcare industry has a long way to go in the quest for maximum patient control. “It’s a good thing because it’s starting,” she said.
Recently, she said, she described to a patient the possibility of using smartphone apps to log nutrition and fitness information, which would be monitored by their doctor remotely. But the patient was discouraged when Dr. Steckowych told him that, so far, no physician she is aware of actually does that yet.
“That was the sadness of it, because I could see that he’ll never do it himself and he really wanted to take part in something, which was to be responsible for his healthcare,” she said. “Not just have pills thrown at him to try to fix things and live it a little longer, but to actually get him into an exercise program and monitor him, because he needed monitoring and he can’t do it himself.”