This briefing series is focused on practice management systems used in general practice in New Zealand and has therefore reviewed only the patient portal offerings that are directly produced by vendors of those systems. It is recognised that there are a variety of portal offerings in New Zealand in addition to those provided by PMS vendors. While these are not reviewed in this briefing series, there is passing reference to some in the market scan section of this report. The term portal is commonly used interchangeably to describe a number of concepts and the term often covers a variety of functionalities and technical architectures. This review focuses on Portals that provide patients access to interact with their health care providers.
In introducing and framing patient portals as a topic of the second PMS review, the project agreed that, given the nascent nature of this e-health intervention, it would not be reasonable to provide a score to assess the various PMS vendor portal offerings. While this briefing paper does not score the portals, it does compare and contrast the offerings based on the most common features of portals from international literature. The panel enlisted the assistance of Dr Sue Wells to assist in defining these features. The expert panel reflected on a number of questions that it believes need some clarification for the sector to broadly adopt patient portal technology. Equally it was recognised that any commentary on portals in New Zealand would not be complete without reflecting on some of the other portal related initiatives in New Zealand outside of the General Practice PMS realm.