25 September 2019 - News Release
Portals are the key
Dr Prue Murdoch of Dunedin’s Amity Health Centre says patient portals are the heart of Health Care Home, but just as useful for all general practices
“I love when I see that little green icon.” So says Amity Health Centre’s Dr Prue Murdoch of the digital marker on a patient’s records indicating they’ve signed up for a patient portal.
“Portals are such a useful tool for a clinician,” says the Dunedin general practitioner. “But it’s even more beneficial for patients. It’s empowering.”
Amity Health Centre in Roslyn, Dunedin has been using portals since 2010, and has 75% of their patients over 18 years signed on for patient portals, one of the highest rates in New Zealand.
With nearly 4,000 enrolled patients, Amity was among the first to become part of the Health Care Home programme in the Southern district, an initiative now including 15 practices in Dunedin, Invercargill, Central Otago, Balclutha, Gore and Oamaru. Dr Murdoch says access to secure online health records via portals is vital for engaging patients more fully in their own health care.
Portals enable patients to see lab results, order repeat scripts, communicate via secure email and make appointments. With online access to consultation notes now also available through a portal there is a greater level of interaction as they see their doctor’s observations and clinical instructions.
‘’We recognise that some clinicians are wary of Open Notes, but we haven’t changed what we do or how we work. I still use medical jargon, as this is efficient. Patients are able to clarify what I have written, however, and to request correction of perceived errors in their medical information – a positive thing.”
Because patient portals support other important aspects of Health Care Home that enhance patient care and improve practice operations – GP triage, extended practice hours and services among them – Amity works to encourage portal uptake among patients whenever possible.
“It is an adjustment for clinicians and patients – the patient-doctor barrier shifts, but overall, it is a positive move that is better for the patient, better for the doctor, and means better care,” Dr Murdoch says.
This seems to be the view of local clinicians and patients as well, as a recent survey by final year medical students indicates largely positive attitudes towards Open Notes by both groups.