Several patient engagement requirements of Stage 2 meaningful use require effective implementation of a patient portal for clinical summaries, reminders for preventive and follow-up care, timely access to health information, patient-specific educational resources and secure electronic messaging. But, making a patient portal available is not enough to engage patients and leverage a powerful tool. “We encourage patients to enroll in our patient portal at every point of care access: emergency department, inpatient care, and ambulatory practice,” says Rebecca Sykes, senior vice president, resource management and chief information officer at Catholic Health Partners in Cincinnati. “We are sharing all results with patients, with the exception of HIV, through our portal, and encourage electronic communication with our providers.”

Patient-generated data was the top feature added to the patient portal according to the 2014 Most Wired Survey results: 59 percent of Most Wired organizations and 48 percent of all surveyed hospitals now offer this functionality. Other standard features that promote care team communication with patients and support self-care are access to clinical summaries, test results and self-management tools. Approximately half of the providers allow patients to self-schedule appointments at their convenience.