Physician Practice

Engaging patients online raises new issues

Physician Practice Insider, March 7, 2017

Physicians say communicating with patients online is still a challenge but that patients are becoming more comfortable with making appointments, refilling prescriptions, and asking follow-up questions through patient portals after appointments. Yet, physicians are discovering that having patients review their medical records—and try to decipher the clinical terms and codes within—can open up a whole new line of questioning.

For the most part, those questions are routine queries about test results and diagnoses that can be answered online with a few sentences, but others require face-to-face meetings and detailed explanations.

“Typically, it’s a question about lab results,” says John Bender, MD, a family physician and CEO of Miramont Family Medicine in Fort Collins, Colorado. “The second-most common question is about a new medical problem. But it’s all part of democratizing medical records, which is a good thing.”

Encouraging patients to review their medical records is an outgrowth of federal healthcare reform and the meaningful use program for EHRs, but the revised rules for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System have eliminated many provisions of meaningful use. For some practices, the transition from the old set of meaningful use regulations to the new Advancing Care Information (ACI) program is a relief, since ACI eliminated some minimum standards for “patient engagement” that many practices had struggled to meet.

This article was originally published in Physician Practice Perspectives. Subscribers can read the full article in the March 2017 issue.

Most Popular