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Patient portals present opportunities and challenges

« Patient portals are a powerful way for patients to quickly access their health information online, » said AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, RHIA, MBA, CAE, FACHE, FAHIMA. « For portals to realize their potential, it is incumbent on HIM professionals to proactively make sure that patients benefit from the same privacy and security standards they are accustomed to. To facilitate this, HIM professionals should be involved in all aspects of their organizations’ portal strategy as they are the experts who will deal with it daily. »


Added Greene, who formerly worked as a regulator at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: « You want each patient to have a strong password but not so strong that they can’t remember it and access their records. »


When an organization installs a patient portal, Greene said that one facility’s experience was that medical record requests increased as patients received greater access to their health information. Areas that pose the greatest privacy challenges include family medicine, women’s health, psychiatry and transplant.


Greene highlighted a number of questions HIM professionals are grappling with, including:


What is the appropriate level of authentication for an electronic health record (EHR) portal?Do patients have the option of asking for higher security through a multifactor authentication?How are password resets handled?

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