A Conversation With Neil Sofian, MSPH About Social Networking and Patient Portals

I am in the great state of California this week, talking about self-management and thinking about the next generation of patient access applications at the Consumer Health Informatics Symposium, in Claremont, California.

As part of the journey, I got to meet Neil Sofian, MSPH the Director of Behavioral Interventions for Resolution Health. Neil’s a believer in the power of social networking, and has extensive experience applying social networking tools to different patient populations, as well as in corporate health applications. In the discussion of next generation of patient self-management tools, I think we both agree that this is a trend to be nurtured and brought closer into our health systems.

Beyond this discussion, I was impressed by the fact that Neil uses the patient portal operated by Group Health to manage his own health, and told me of his experience accessing his lab test results (which he gave me permission to write about here). What he is able to do is get his test results posted to his secure web site, so he’s able to contact his doctor about values that are out of range with the knowledge of what the values are. The impressive part is that at times, he has reviewed these values before his doctor because the system is set up to give the patient nearly the same access as the doctor does. He said that when he lets her know about the results, she listens and works with him to interpret them. It doesn’t sound like a big deal that he has seen them first in some cases.

This is what we envisioned 3 years ago when we decided to share most lab results, even those, out of reference range, with patient online, at almost the same time as the physician gets them in the electronic health record (Actually, there’s a 24 hour delay). We wanted patients to be involved and engaged in their care, and doctors to support this by being where the patient wanted them to be.

I love it.


Ted: Great piece about the patient taking control. I had my cholesterol and glucose levels checked recently and after a few days, called my MD's office to have the results faxed to me. That seems like ancient technology! But it was the only way to get the results. I use the patient portal from HealthNet – fueled by WedMD – and they only items they seem to post are when and what is done, not the actual results.




I wrote about my experience getting my cholesterol checked and what a difference it made to get the result quickly. I'm hopeful (and confident) that this can be the experience of every patient in every care system. We just have to ask for it, and it is so much better (and doable!).

Thanks for commenting,


Ted Eytan, MD