Addressing privacy concerns is one of the most important ways to make patients meaningful users of their personal health information. But there are several other fairly simple ways to reach patients, says Donna DuLong, RN, cochair of the American Health Information Management Association's Personal Health Information Practice Council.
Systems should use patient-centered design principles to make it as easy as possible for consumers to access and navigate their PHI. "This should not be disruptive technology for our patients," DuLong says.
The way that charts and data are organized might make sense to clinicians, but can be harder for patients to understand. One way to simplify is to arrange the data by health condition, rather than by date or, even worse, by reimbursement code.
Organizations just getting started can offer simple services such as online appointment scheduling, appointment reminders, and medication refill requests. These transactions will feel familiar to consumers who do any kind of online business—from banking to shopping.
Another simple tactic is to concentrate outreach on so-called digital natives who are fluent in social media communication. Interactive and relevant content is important to these tech-savvy consumers, so build communities and create intelligent tools and searches for them. "Engagement matters," DuLong says.