The delivery of health care is a complicated process, which makes medical professionals rely on various supporting tools. In particular, patient portals, personal health records (PHR), and social media lead to better health outcomes. Patient portals offer many benefits that include patient-provider communication, providing individuals with constant access to their health information, and promoting patient engagement (Chapter 10, n.d.). In turn, PHRs are electronic or paper data pieces that contain information about people’s health. Both healthcare professionals and patients complete PHRs, but the latter bear the principal responsibility (Chapter 10, n.d.). These data pieces are effective because they unite information from multiple providers. Finally, social media can facilitate the delivery of care because medical organizations typically rely on online platforms to advertise their services, communicate with patients, and provide education.
Patient portals and social media are more suitable for distributing educational tools and programs. The rationale behind this statement is that these applications promote direct interaction between patients and medical professionals. That is why healthcare providers can rely on patient portals and social media platforms to prove that individuals can access specific materials. Since PHRs do not offer such an opportunity, they are not suitable for promoting educational resources.
If a facility uses such applications, it should rely on specific policies. In particular, it is reasonable to establish sufficient data security (encryption and two-tier verification) and avoid discrimination (offering applications to all people). Furthermore, specific federal laws and rules exist to govern the use of these applications. On the one hand, the 21st Century Cures Act obliges IT developers to provide patients with the ability to access their health records via their smartphones (Johnson et al., 2021). This rule makes the applications available for all people and at any time. On the one hand, the Health Insurance Portability and Affordability Act ensures that medical institutions protect patient data. This requirement is necessary to prevent the disclosure of confidential information.
Chapter 10. (n.d.). Health informatics [PDF document].
Johnson, C., Richwine, C., & Patel, V. (2021). Individuals’ access and use of patient portals and smartphone health apps, 2020. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, 57, 1-14.