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Single Portal Solution the Great Enabler in Year of the Patient

May 24 2016 by Gary Hamilton

During his keynote address at the HIMSS Pop Health Forum, which took place May 19-20 in Boston, David Feinberg, CEO, Geisinger Health System, declared that the solution to healthcare’s problems is to enact a “Year of the Patient.” He then went on to compare healthcare to other consumer driven industries saying, “If we can get that Amazon connection to people we have the chance to be the next Uber. If we don’t, I think we become Blockbuster.”

Geisinger’s apt analysis suggests that for patients to readily engage in their own healthcare decision-making, shopping for practices, communicating with providers, receiving documentation, scheduling appointments and procedures, and requesting medication refills, must be as ubiquitous an experience to consumers as is shopping for personal products on the Internet.

The reason consumers have embraced Internet shopping in such large numbers and across all age groups is the ease at which it can now be accomplished. And the key to that success was the development of the Internet browser.

Likewise, the key to providing a similar solution to healthcare shopping is the single portal solution. Like the Internet browser, which has developed to become a powerful yet easy-to-use tool anyone can learn in minutes, the single portal solution enables healthcare consumers to access, research, and engage with healthcare from the comfort of their homes.

On a similar note, from the provider’s perspective, the single portal solution offers the same ubiquitous tool for engaging with patients, as well as with data input and reporting systems. And, on an enterprise-wide scale, the single portal solution increases efficiency among the organization’s caregivers by providing a single input point through which they securely access a hospital’s information systems.

Geisinger’s statements, as well as those from the rest of the Pop Health Forum speakers, are apropos and timely considering the recent proposal by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), which is seeking the authority to legislate not just the health information exchange (HIE) technologies used by healthcare providers and organizations, but also their activities as well.

The goal, according to a statement by the ONC’s Acting Assistant Secretary Karen B. DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, and Lisa Lewis, ONC’s Chief Operating Officer, is to “address the business policies, practices, and behavior of health IT entities” so as to better “support the interoperable sharing of electronic health information to improve the health of our nation.”

If its proposal is successful, the ONC would have greater power to:

• punish providers and organizations for engaging in information blocking;

• ensure transparency by requiring health IT developers to “publicly disclose the costs, restrictions, and limitations of their products and services;” and

• create a “confidential space” where providers and developers can safely report and analyze health IT-related “safety events” and other concerns.

The challenge for hospital IT management will be how to:

• monitor, record, and report on the IT activities of its providers; and

• ensure doctors, nurses, and other caregivers comply with strict protocols and procedures in order to enable IT departments to complete #1.

The single portal solution is the key. Consider the lessons learned by the military on engaging its ground troops in lockstep marching to get them from point A to point B quickly and safely. Requiring every provider in a healthcare organization to access patient records and other hospital systems through a single portal accomplishes the same goal—efficiency.

Gary Hamilton – CEO, InteliChart