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 www.patientportals.co.nz.
Posted in New Zealand eHealth