Managing Patient Relationships

Electronic health records can store information about individual patient preferences, including primary language, end-of-life wishes, cultural beliefs or rituals, usual caregivers, nicknames, and extended family connections.

Secure e-mail can provide easy and efficient access to health care services and information for many patients. A patient portal allows patients to view sections of their EHR, request prescriptions or appointments, and report the results of home monitoring. Patient portals are also used to help direct patients to preferred Internet-based resources for education and support.

Patient self-management support shifts some of the responsibility for chronic illness care or lifestyle modification directly to the patient. Electronic systems can aid by sending automated reminders, education, and encouragement to patients between visits. Systems can track progress toward patient-oriented goals and report back to the office care team.

Social networking is now part of everyday life for a sizable portion of the U.S. population. Innovative uses of social networking can provide regular communication with patients, allowing for the development of support groups and enhancing interactions with patients between face-to-face visits. Just as the EHR must integrate into the physician workflow, the patient support strategies must integrate into their daily routines and tools.

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