Patient Portals 3

Need help with your patient portal? We’ve got you covered!


A question we often hear at the Foundation is: what exactly is patient engagement?

In 2012, Leonard Kish, a health IT strategy consultant, described patient engagement as “the Blockbuster Drug of the Century.”Indeed, there is mounting evidence that activated and engaged patients have better health outcomes and care experiences, as well as significantly lower costs.

But it’s much more complex than a simple definition. By way of recent work in this important area, we’ve come to understand that patient portals can be a key tool to encouraging patient engagement.

At health clinics, the use of patient portals represents an increasingly significant innovation in support of patient engagement, patient‐centered care and effective use of health care services. They are secure online websites that give patients convenient, secure access to their health care providers’ services, as well as access to their own health records. When patient portals are integrated with electronic health record (EHR) systems, the technology has the potential to provide a powerful mechanism for increasing patient activation and engagement.

And when fully leveraged, a patient portal can be a robust tool for safety-net clinics, providers and patients alike.

Which is why the Colorado Health Foundation, with support from Full Circle Projects and 14 participating grantees, has officially launched a new, one-stop-shop for valuable tools on how to effectively plan and implement a patient portal that helps empower individuals and families to manage their own health.

From May 2014 to April 2017, the Foundation supported and led a funding opportunity, Enhance Health Engagement through Patient Portal Use, with 14 Colorado safety net clinics across the state. This funding opportunity was designed to increase individual and family engagement in their health through the use of patient portals at the clinic level. By focusing on people and process, as opposed to technology alone, this funding opportunity aimed to build a culture where a patient could access and use health information to improve their health and health behaviors.

The newly launched Patient Portal Knowledge Center was developed as a result of this work to provide clinicians with key patient portal resources, available for download. These resources are practical for use in both implementation of a new project or integration with an existing one. They include real-world examples, job descriptions, free-to-use images and posters, as well as sample policies and procedures.

The Knowledge Center covers key topics for planning and launching (or relaunching) a patient portal, including:

  • Patient portal fundamentals
  • Portal planning and leadership
  • Portal software and vendors
  • Deploying and operating a portal
  • Portal deployment for varied populations

We hope the Knowledge Center provides you with relevant information, context and best practices that will help support your own patient portal project – whether it’s new or you’re reinventing an existing portal.

On behalf of the Foundation, I’d like to thank Tom Dawson and James Meyers, DrPH, MHA, FACHE of Full Circle Projects, who were responsible for coaching the grantees over a two-year period and developing content for this new Knowledge Center.

Last, but certainly not least, we’d like to extend our gratitude to the grantees who participated in this important and informative work. The Knowledge Center – and the valuable lessons learned from the project – would not be possible without your tireless commitment to improving the health of Coloradans.


Kish, L. The Blockbuster Drug of the Century: An Engaged Patient. Health Standards. Aug. 28, 2012. Accessed June 7, 2017.