Portals with a purpose: A conversation with Michael S. Wolf Ph.D

Written by: Grace Olson, Associate Editor

Many of the healthcare industry's patient engagement strategies have come from leveraging IT solutions. That approach has been as basic as a text message appointment reminder to making more involved decisions relative to cultivating electronic health records to deliver patient education. The common issue behind all of these interventions is that they are tools, not necessarily the solutions for much of anything. Patient portals, for example, are really just blank slates and they can only deliver positive results if we make the right design decisions during their inceptions. Unfortunately, recent studies suggest that our current approaches to patient portals are not helping certain patient populations, usually those patients in the most need of quality healthcare.

In his first HIT Leaders interview, Michael S. Wolf Ph.D outlined his team's research, which describes how portals are pushing certain patient populations away from the opportunity of taking charge of their own healthcare management. As a follow-up to that interview, we asked Wolf how healthcare ought to reconsider the mission and function of patient portals so that they may enable a wider population to benefit from the emerging technology's growing number of applications and features. 

(Editor's note: To hear audio excerpts of this interview, click on the media player buttons that run throughout this article. )

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Michael S. Wolf Ph.D, patient engagement, patient portals, patient training

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