News Feature | September 3, 2015

Portals Not Ready For Diagnosis

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

Medical Records

According to researchers at the Mayo Clinic, patient portals do not have sufficient enough messaging platforms for clinical decision making.

Mayo Clinic patients reported their blood pressure readings, but the results of the study showed messages exchanged through patient portals were not sufficient enough for clinical decisions.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic sorted through more than 52,000 secure messages in patient portals before writing, “Patient concerns about high and low BP accounted for over one-third of the messages,” according to MobiHealth News. “There were concerns about BP medication side effect in about 10 percent, and dosage changes were mentioned in 13 percent of the patient messages.

“In essence, about 50 percent of the messages involved BP medication management. Despite the medical concerns voiced by patients in their secure messages, there was little evidence that patients were using messages to gain face-to-face access. We only found a patient request for an appointment in 3 percent of the messages, and providers suggested an appointment in only 11 percent of the message responses. These findings suggest that BP information transmitted asynchronously via the portal was acceptable both for patients and providers as a means for BP management without a face-to-face visit.”

iHealth Beat reports 99 percent of messages resulted in a response from the care team. Fifty-five percent were physicians, 31 percent were nurses, and 7 percent were physician assistants or nurse practitioners. Of these, More than one-third of the messages included concerns about high and low blood pressure and about half of the messages included information on blood pressure medication management.

“Patients with adequate control of their BP and no concerns about their antihypertensive medication could use a secure message to confirm adequate BP control without requiring an office visit. Patients needing frequent BP measurements or titration of antihypertensive medications would need more robust data-capturing support from dedicated telemonitoring systems or e-visits,” wrote researchers.