News Feature | October 4, 2013

Portal Use To Increase By 220 Percent In Next 5 Years

Source: Health IT Outcomes
Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

HTO Patient Portals

Report further indicates most solutions available today are not capable of providing advanced interoperability and functionality needed

A report from Frost & Sullivan predicts 221 percent growth in portal use by 2017. The market research company writes, “The total U.S. patient portal market for hospitals and physicians earned revenue of $279.8 million in 2012. This is expected to increase steadily, reaching $898.4 million in 2017, representing a 221.1 percent increase. The majority of revenue will primarily result from increased demand driven by myriad forces including the need to meet Stage 2 Meaningful Use (MU) requirements, the growing move to clinical integration and accountable care, and increasing consumer demand for health information technology.”

According to Fierce Health IT, “The report found that half of U.S. hospitals and 40 percent of physicians in ambulatory practices own some type of patient portal technology, most often a module that came as part of their practice management or electronic health record system. However, that doesn't mean they're using that technology, which Frost & Sullivan refers to as ‘Patient Portal 1.0.’"

Frost & Sullivan Connected Health Principal Analyst Nancy Fabozzi said, “Because the majority of solutions available today are not capable of providing the advanced interoperability and functionality needed to support clinical integration, accountable care and ongoing and sustainable patient engagement, significant disruption is forecasted in the years to come.

"As healthcare reform and transformation advances, providers will seek new ways to engage patients and influence behavior beyond the point of care and will increasingly look to the more advanced solutions that are proven to consistently motivate patient compliance and sustained behavioral change. These solutions, which can be considered ‘Patient Portal 2.0,’ will have robust functions such as health information exchange across diverse care settings, integration of clinical and financial data, dynamic scheduling, social networking, gaming, avatars for personalized health coaching, and e-visits."

Which leads to the next problem - not all vendors are created equal. Some are better equipped to provide technology capable of meeting MU requirements. A survey by Klas Research found that while Stage 2 MU has made portals sell like hotcakes, “this increase is having a negative effect on best-of-breed vendors, as providers report that third-party solutions are not as well equipped as EMR offerings for the more engaging requirements of MU Stage 2.”

According to Information Week Healthcare, Stage 2 “requires providers to allow patients to access their health records electronically. At least five percent of patients must ‘view, download or transmit’ their information. In addition, providers must use their EHRs to send reminders for preventive and follow-up care to more than 10 percent patients with two or more office visits in the last two years. They also must use EHRs to identify patient-specific education materials for more than 10 percent of unique patients seen during the EHR reporting period.”

The report found most portals were capable of record sharing, but they lacked the necessary technology to meet patient engagement requirements.  “The HITECH Act that launched MU Stage 2 is clearly aiding the EMR vendors in this segment,” said Klas report author and research director Mark Allphin. “However, there are advantages to looking outside your EMR. Many providers are still trying to determine which portal solution will best meet their needs, now and in the future as they continue to engage their patients on a deeper level.”