Patient portals, electronic medical records, and personal monitoring devices are three of the most revolutionary technologies in the healthcare sector. Each of these technologies presents patients with the potential to empower themselves, taking control of their own healthcare outcomes, and taking part in their overall healthcare goals. These technologies also streamline healthcare administration and minimize medication and billing errors. However, each of these technologies is also constrained by a range of issues related to accessibility, with potent socioeconomic class disparities evident. Security and standardization of healthcare technologies are also proving problematic. Patient portals, electronic medical records, and personal monitoring devices are all technologies that have the potential to radically improve the quality of healthcare and patient outcomes, as well as improve overall patient experiences. Because of their abundant benefits, these technologies need to be embraced and promoted through effective public health policies. Otherwise, disparities will continue to threaten to exacerbate the already significant social determinants of health.
Online portals are rapidly becoming the main point of contact and communication between patients and the healthcare system. Patient portals allow patients to access their own medical history and medication records, learn more about their conditions and information related to prevention and self care, and also manage their billing. The technology is “becoming more widely used and are expected to promote patient engagement with health care,” (Ancker, Barron, Rockoff, et al., 2011, p. 1117).
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Enrollment in patient portals has been shown to be around 70% (Goel, Brown, Williams, et al., 2011). Therefore, patient portals can and should penetrate the healthcare system to a greater extent than they already are.
Yet patient portals have yet to be standardized, and reveal the shocking disparities with regards to demographics like age and ethnicity. All nonwhite minorities, and older patients, are the least likely to be enrolled in the patient portals (Goel, Brown, Williams, et al., 2011). Recent research on patient portal usage shows that those “most at risk” for common diseases like diabetes “may fall further behind” in terms of healthcare outcomes due to the disparities in use (Sarkar, Karter, Liu, et al, 2011). Disparities in patient portal use is also associated with overall disparities in health literacy, with patients who already have strong health literacy being more likely to use the portals versus patients with weak health literacy (Sarkar, Karter, Liu, et al., 2010). These findings reveal strong implications for how healthcare organizations and perhaps more importantly, health policymakers, can capitalize on technology to reduce social disparities in health.
Electronic Medical Records
Electronic medical records offer tremendous potential for reducing overall medical errors,….....
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Fletcher, B.R., Hinton, L., Hartmann-Boyce, et al. (2016). Self-monitoring blood pressure in hypertension, patient and provider perspectives: A systematic review and thematic synthesis. Patient Education and Counseling 99(2): 210-219.
Goel, M.S., Brown, T.L., Williams, A., et al. (2011). Disparities in enrollment and use of an electronic patient portal. Journal of General Internal Medicine 26(10): 1112-1116.
Irizarry, T., Dabbs, A.D. & Curran, C.R. (2015). Patient portals and patient engagement. Journal of Medical Internet Research 17(6): e148.
Sarkar, U., Karter, A.J., Liu, et al. (2010). The literacy divide. Journal of Health Communication 15(2): 183-196.
Sarkar, U., Karter, A.J., Liu, J.Y., et al. (2011). Social disparities in internet patient portal use in diabetes: evidence that the digital divide extends beyond access. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association 18(3): 318-321.
report by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics for the Generic Pharmaceutical Association estimated that consumer savings from generic drug uptake were nearly $240 billion in 2013” (VanEck, 2016). These savings demonstrate how important generic drugs are to the entire pharmaceutical business and the healthcare industry as a whole. While it would be nice of there was a generic version of every drug on the market, the reality is that when new drugs are approved and given a spot on the marketplace, this is usually with a timeframe of patent protection and overall exclusivity (VanEck, 2016).… Continue Reading...