Coleman kicks off patient portal push

New Zealand Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has launched a public awareness campaign for patient portals as part of his government's push to expand the use of the technology.

As part of the National Health IT Board's strategy, it was hoped to have a portal on offer to every New Zealander by the end of the last year.

However, with uptake from general practices at less than 25 per cent, the government agreed to invest $3 million to expand their use.

Of that $3m, $500,000 is for an awareness campaign, with the remaining funds spent on tools and support for general practices signing up to use patient portals.

The campaign will target doctors, nurses and practice managers as well as patients through print and online advertisements.

“More than 40,000 people from 132 general practices already have access to a patient portal,” Dr Coleman said in a statement. “It’s a great start, and now we are looking to accelerate the uptake to give even more New Zealanders easy, convenient access to their health information.”

A review of the NZ patient portal market undertaken last year by Patients First found that uptake of the technology was expected to be driven organically through patient demand, but that reluctance from practitioners was the biggest stumbling block to wider use.

One representative on the review panel characterised many health practitioners' attitudes towards patient portals as “fear, and sometimes loathing”, with disruption to workflow the biggest concern.

Dr Coleman described patient portals as a secure online site which gives New Zealanders access to their health information at any time of day.

“The portal site enables patients to manage aspects of their own healthcare, such as booking appointments, requesting repeat prescriptions and messaging clinical staff directly.

“In addition to giving patients more control over their own healthcare, patient portals reduce the time general practice staff spend on administrative tasks.”

Dr Coleman launched the awareness campaign at Medplus Family Medical Centre on Auckland’s North Shore, which has seen more than a quarter of its patients register for the patient portal since it launched the service in January 2014.

The government has set up a website at

Posted in New Zealand eHealth


0 # Dallas Knight 2015-04-27 08:47
This is welcome and long overdue. The practice I attend has been very reluctant to embrace these changes but I am hoping that this initiative will see a change. Thanks Dr Coleman and all of the people (lots) involved.
0 # jon wilcox 2015-04-27 11:19
Yes dallas but you are probably in the tiny luxury who are happy to pay to have this service...wwe are underfunded and overworked
0 # Dallas Knight 2015-04-28 11:14
Quoting jon wilcox:
Yes dallas but you are probably in the tiny luxury who are happy to pay to have this service...wwe are underfunded and overworked

I have an appreciation of medial work demands. What do General Practices need to enable patients to use online services? Perhaps this feedback needs to be conveyed to the Ministry of Health?
0 # Richard Medlicott 2015-04-28 13:02
Quoting jon wilcox:
Yes dallas but you are probably in the tiny luxury who are happy to pay to have this service...wwe are underfunded and overworked

Personally I find that the ability to let patients know their results without calling them or asking my nurses to do so saves me time. Likewise I'd rather fire off a quick email response to a query than try and play unpaid telephone tag with patients where you can be held hostage!

Definitely saves me time. Time is money.
0 # Jon Wilcox 2015-04-28 13:37
I doubt that the NHITB understands the diversity of practice in New Zealand, with the exception that with fee-contraction there will simply be less time available for ALL of us to provide the hitherto free add-ons that we have historically indulged in. Patients will need to pay for their access and there will most likely be cheaper and better portal systems than MMH coming along soon. MMH does not even provide DHB reports in any case so it is a somewhat limited service.
0 # Richard Medlicott 2015-04-28 16:20
The point is being a patient portal, not a DHB portal! There are all kinds of tools out there for health intelligence.
We get reports out of it quite happily for auditing access as part of the 3 DHB shared care record. The patients haven't signed up for having their information used in other ways, so be cautious about using it for other purposes.
You can certainly run reports for your own practice on utilisation of services etc. No way would I want it opened up for reporting to MoH or DHB. The PHOs have got tools that can do that already.
So, if you want it to run reports for DHB then it is limited. If you want it to integrate with your PMS (either portal with either of the mains PMS) with functions that speed up your workflow and the patients like then it is not limited at all.

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