Patient portals not quite ready for med adherence

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Patients are enthusiastic about using online portals to manage their medications, but more features and functionality are necessary to maximize medication management and adherence, according to a study published this week in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

The study's authors point out that no data exist about the potential and real uses of patient portals for medication adherence to improve outcomes.

Patients who used portals tend to be white, affluent, well-educated, and privately insured, according to the results. They also were more likely to attend focus groups.

Patients reported using the portal to refill prescriptions and view their medication list, and were enthusiastic about the possibility of refill reminders. Other functionalities of interest included streamlined refills, alerts to providers for refills and information about side effects. 

Earlier this week, it was reported that patients who use the Internet more frequently are more likely to embrace patient-centered healthcare efforts and participate in their own care, according to another JMIR study. Additionally, online health communities have been found to be powerful tools for addressing chronic care issues as the number of patients afflicted with such diseases grows.

In May, Geisinger Health System, buoyed by the success of its experiment to provide patients with access to their physicians' electronic notes, decided to expand the program to more than 500 of its physicians and 100,000 patients. The program alerts patients by email every time their physician posts a note about them into their electronic health record. The patient then can access the note through a patient portal.

To learn more:
- read the study in JMIR

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