More Patient Portals

In a LinkedIn response to my post about multiple patient portal logins I got this insightful commentary from Stuart Jarvis on the challenges of patient portals that I think will help to expand the conversation about patient portals:

The patient portal is a nice idea but the complications of hippa rules and penalties makes it not worth the effort.

I would be nice if digital devices linked directly into EMR’s but here are the reasons that it will probably never happen;

1. Most digital devices that are not made/developed by the EMR vendor (like
Philips or GE) will not interface cleanly

2. Most of the digital devices are islands unto themselves related to both hardware
and software

3. Many of the devices that you are probably talking about generate meaningful
data, but are so old in terms of technology and software, that getting the
data would be very painful

4. The last item is that these devices generate so much data and reports, most
of which are not what the doctor wants to see that the doctor will not use
them because it takes to long to get to the small amounts of information that
they do want.

I think it’s great to expand the discussion of patient portals to include integration with the data to a device. The other integration that we’ll have to consider is integration between a patient portal and a health information exchange. Yes, I know that’s farther down the road, but visions of the cloud are so much more exciting than carrying a device around with your information.

I think the last point is the one that resonates the most with me. We’re on the precipice where physicians are going to be inundated with data. In some ways we’re already there. We need smart systems that can transform that data into something useful for the doctor. We need technology to filter through the mass of data to get the “small amounts of information” that the physician does want. I think that’s a major part of the challenge of the next five years.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • … And each device has its own protocol(s) that the vendors are all too happy to charge for integrating into an EMR over and over again.

    This is akin to the days of DOS when every program needed its own print driver.

  • John, I’m optimistic about mobile/device integration into the EHR. I think it will eventually happen, but probably not in a “OK, boys, let them all in!” manner. Stuart is right in saying that interfacing is difficult, not to mention the lack of trust physicians have of outside data.

    To reach people/patients, innovative providers are going to have to go where the patients are, not just where they want them to be, which goes to your comment on social sign in.

    I realize there is a difference between a medical device, such as a pacemaker, and a smart phone, but I don’t think the differences will continue. The trends are pointing toward mobile device integration with personal smart phones/tablets. Why does that make things easier? Because smart phones are simply computers. At the very least they interface easily with a computer.

    Here’s what I think about the listed problems:

    1. Interfacing is a problem with all disparate technologies, not just mobile devices and outside tech, yet it is a challenge that is being overcome daily in healthcare.

    2/3. Digital devices/app developers will adapt and make their product output flexible enough so it can be integrated with an EHR, whether it be through using HL7 or some other parsable data standard. If they make it easy by using HL7/CCD, then the application/device will have a tremendous competitive advantage.

    4. The doctor does not have to see all the data produced by mobile devices, internal devices, or any other system for that matter… that’s what a Physician Portal is for — to have the application systems present only the data the physicians want to see.

    Lastly, HIEs will have their own patient and physician portals. Meaningful Use Stage 2 has proposed Consolidated CDA as the healthcare standard for the exchange of clinical information. Assuming both personal physician portals and HIE portals will adhere to the designated standard, portal data should be repopulated whenever it is exchanged between the HIE or members of the HIE and integrated into the host system.

  • Thanks for the thoughtful comment Chad.

    I find the idea of the HIE being the patient portal really intriguing. In fact, seems like I could do another post on it talking about the HIE business model could be a patient portal. Very interesting to consider.

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