Bob Belfort, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP
As National Program Director Patricia Flatley Brennan and Deven McGraw of the Center for Democracy & Technology have discussed in recent blog posts, Stage 2 of Meaningful Use may set higher standards for health care providers’ engagement with patients. For example, in Stage 1, providers need only provide patients with an electronic copy of their health information upon request 50 percent of the time. But under Stage 2, providers may be required to use online secure patient messaging to communicate with patients via e-mail.
This move toward more patient engagement in Meaningful Use leads to an important question, which PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) explored in a recent research paper titled “Putting Patients into Meaningful Use”: How can health care providers use health IT tools, such as personal health records (PHRs), to effectively expand the care team to include patients?
A recent study suggests that less than half of all physicians are willing to use patients’ PHRs as part of their clinical work. Mistrust of patient-generated data, time constraints, lack of financial incentives and liability concerns are several issues that could contribute to this sentiment. To truly exploit the transformative potential of health IT tools, health care providers will have to become comfortable with engaging patients as more active partners in managing their own care. This is why Project HealthDesign is so important to ensuring that the government’s larger health IT adoption efforts succeed.
We are looking forward to talking about the issue of provider liability for reliance on patient-generated data and other related issues at an upcoming meeting with our five current project teams. In the meantime, we encourage you to let us know what you think about the steps PWC outlined for using PHRs to effectively expand the care team to include patients and consumers:
- Make providers (doctors, nurse practitioners) the face of the PHR.
- Define expectations for active participation by patients.
- Keep family members in the loop.
- Work side-by-side with patients as they use their PHRs.
They seem like good baseline recommendations to us. How would you build on them to be more specific?
- Read the full PWC report.