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McWilliams School of Biomedical Informatics

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AMIA Patient Portal

Monday, November 17th, 2014

The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) 2014 Annual Symposium is taking place this week in Washington, and many of the faculty, students and staff of SBMI are in attendance.

AMIA 2014 Annual Symposium

AMIA calls its Symposium “the leading scientific meeting for biomedical and health informatics research and practice,” and each year it brings together thousands of researchers, students, industry partners, informatics practitioners and more to discuss recent discovery in the informatics field and to explore future innovations. It is towards some of these innovations that AMIA asks students to make a unique contributions. 

The 2014 AMIA Symposium is the second in which AMIA has hosted a student design challenge. The theme this year is "Beyond Patient Portals: Engaging Patients with their Healthcare Providers." SBMI has a top eight finalist student team that successfully developed a prototype of a patient portal application (or “app”) that puts patient information in an easy-to-use format, encouraging interaction with providers.

But how are patient portals beneficial in the field of informatics?

According to, a patient portal is a “secure online website that gives patients convenient 24-hour access to personal health information from anywhere with an Internet connection.” While portals make accessing health care information easier for the patient, the benefits of using them extend to both patients and providers.

According to Emont (2011), “portals can offer features that enhance patient-provider communication and enable patients to schedule appointments, pay bills, refill prescriptions, and access lab results” which can be very valuable to patients. Having immediate access to critical health care information helps patients become more proactive in maintaining their health as “people pay more attention and become more engaged in their health and medical care when they have easy access to their health information online” (Emont, 2011).

Emont (2011) also notes that “portals offer a number of potential benefits to providers, including administrative efficiencies (e.g., reduced call volume), improved responsiveness to patients’ needs, decreased utilization of health services, more effective care, and cost savings.” Patient portals can save clinics, healthcare systems, and clinicians time and money, all while providing higher levels of care to their patients. With all of the inherent advantages to using the portals, innovative and valuable advancements to these technologies can continue to improve the health care and health information technology industries.

Our SBMI student design team may be on the precipice of developing the next impactful patient portal app used in the health care industry. We want to congratulate them on earning a finalist position in the AMIA Symposium student design challenge. We also want to acknowledge the following members of the SBMI community that will play an important role in the AMIA 2014 Symposium this week.

  • SBMI Professor Dean Sittig, PhD: AMIA Board of Director Member & “Clinical Decision Support: A Practical Guide to Developing Your Program to Improve Outcomes” tutorial session leader on Nov. 16
  • SBMI Associate Professor >AMIA 2014 Affiliate Meeting for Informatics for Integrating Biology & the Bedside (i2b2) Organizing Chair & “Doctoral Consortium and a Workshop on Interoperability of Clinical NLP Systems” tutorial session leader on Nov. 15
  • SBMI Associate Professor Trevor Cohen, MBChB, MD, PhD: AMIA 2014 Scientific Program Committee (SPC) Member
  • SBMI Professor James Langabeer, PhD: “A Curvilinear Path Towards Interoperability: Disparate Models of Community Health Information Exchange” presentation on Nov. 17
  • SBMI Assistant Professor Amy Franklin, PhD, SBMI Dean Jiajie Zhang, PhD, & SBMI Adjunct Faculty Member Muhammad Walji, PhD: “Fundamentals of EHR Usability” tutorial session leaders on Nov. 17
  • SBMI Students Vickie Nguyen, Mandana “Nina” Salimi, Adriana Stanley and Mehdi Rais: Student Design Challenge Finalists (Project Title: “UHealth for Your Health: Enhancing Utilization of Patient Portals and Its Experience”)
  • SBMI Doctoral Candidate Safa Fathiamini, MD, MS: “Exploring the Use of SemRep Predications to Help Identify Secondary Drug Targets for Personalized Cancer Therapy” student poster presentation
  • SBMI Doctoral Candidate Min Jiang, MS: “Building a Treebank of Hospital Discharge Summaries” student poster presentation
  • SBMI Masters Student Paul Loubser, MB ChB: “Physician Satisfaction With Computerized Order Entry” student poster presentation
  • SBMI Doctoral Candidate Stephanie Tucker: “Mobile Education: Reaching Homeless PTSD Veterans” student poster presentation


What is a patient portal? Retrieved September 29, 2014 from

Emont, S. (May 2011) Measuring the Impact of Patient Portals: What the Literature Tells Us. Retrieved from

written by Chelsea Overstreet