"Most practices in New Zealand now offer patient portals (9) and the College is of the view that these should be included as a business-as-usual feature of general practice. The ability to self-manage appointments, view laboratory results, and request repeat prescriptions gives patients more control and ownership of their health affairs and reduces administrative costs for practices by automating low-value, transactional interactions. Secure messaging is another option and can be particularly beneficial for patients who can only write and read messages outside of a practice’s normal working hours. Specialist GPs are then able to respond the next time they are at work, in accordance with that practice’s policy on how and when such messages are actioned. If the messaging system is linked to the practice’s health records, any messages are automatically recorded against the patient’s file, which may not be the case for email exchanges.
However, while secure messaging provides a very accessible channel for patients to interact with members, it can be challenging if it is not supported by a clear charging policy. In the absence of such a policy, practices may find themselves inundated with messages ranging from simple follow-up questions to detailed descriptions of new health concerns.
Open notes can provide benefits for patients (10,11) and can be particularly valuable in relation to telehealth consultations where communication can be more difficult. Having a record of what was discussed and what treatment and actions were recommended can act as a useful safety net when call quality is poor due to internet connections or mobile".
Source: Specialist GP telehealth consultations position statement(external link), NZ, 2022
How patient portals and open notes fit with Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles is outlined in the following image.