Issues and questions to consider in implementing secure electronic patient-provider web portal communications systems

Int J Med Inform. 2010 Jul;79(7):469-77. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2010.04.005. Epub 2010 May 15.


Purpose: Patients are increasingly interested in using Internet-based technologies to communicate with their providers, schedule clinic visits, request medication refills, and view their medical records electronically. However, healthcare organizations face significant challenges in providing such highly personal and sensitive communication in an effective and user-friendly manner.

Methods: Based on the literature and our experience in providing a secure web-based patient-provider communication portal in primary care clinics, a framework was developed that identifies key issues and questions to consider in implementing secure electronic patient-provider communications systems.

Results: The framework serves to categorize the many lessons learned from our implementation process and the specific issues and questions healthcare organizations need to consider in implementing such systems related to seven areas: strategic fit and priority; selection process & implementation team; integration into communications and workflows; HIPAA issues & clinic policies; systems implementation & training; marketing & enrollment; on-going performance monitoring.

Conclusion: The framework provides a useful guide for organizations looking to implement secure electronic patient-provider communication systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care / organization & administration*
  • Computer Security*
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Hospital Communication Systems / organization & administration*
  • Internet*
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized / organization & administration*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • United States