ABSTRACT: Practice improvement, part II: update on patient communication technologies
Patient portals (ie, secure web-based services for patient health record access) and secure messaging to health care professionals are gaining popularity slowly. Advantages of web portals include timely communication and instruction, access to appointments and other services, and high patient satisfaction. Limitations include inappropriate use, security considerations, organizational costs, and exclusion of patients who are uncomfortable with or unable to use computers. Attention to the organization’s strategic plan and office policies, patient and staff expectations, workflow and communication integration, training, marketing, and enrollment can facilitate optimal use of this technology. Other communication technologies that can enhance patient care include automated voice or text reminders and brief electronic communications. Social media provide another method of patient outreach, but privacy and access are concerns. Incorporating telehealthcare (health care provided via telephone or Internet), providing health coaching, and using interactive health communication applications can improve patient knowledge and clinical outcomes and provide social support.