Rolling-out patient portals at scale

By Dave Boerner, Solutions Architect, Patients Know Best

Patient portals are a powerful clinical engagement tool increasingly becoming a necessity for patients and healthcare professionals alike. They’re also a major part of the local digital roadmaps for many healthcare organisations across the UK – underpinned by initiatives including the NHS 5-Year Forward View which argued for greater emphasis on prevention, integration and putting patients and communities in control of their health, Matt Hancock’s vision for a more tech-driven NHS, or more recently the NHS Long-Term Plan with its commitment to give people more control over their care and support to help them manage their health.

However, implementing a patient portal can seem like a daunting task, particularly when you think about all the partners involved, the data to be exchanged, the agreements to underpin these and the processes that need to happen to make it work. It’s a bit like navigating a big ship where the CIO (Chief Information Officer) is the captain, and the crew is responsible for ensuring tasks align so the ship moves at the right pace, in the right direction and can easily respond to any challenges ahead.

It sounds tricky, but from my experience of working at Patients Know Best (PKB) to develop solutions for NHS organisational architectures, I realised it doesn’t need to be if you have the correct navigation in place.

Let’s take the analogy of the ship just a bit further if I may; PKB powers the largest cruise liner of its kind: the North West London (NWL) patient portal programme. This was born from the NWL Local Digital Roadmap to provide 2.3 million patients and carers with access to their records, helping them to become more digitally empowered and involved in their care.  It includes 8 acute trusts, 8 Clinical Commissioning Groups, over 400 GP practices and more than a dozen community services. Yes, it’s complex, with many partners and variables involved. However, with careful planning, they were able to successfully create a scalable and sustainable solution that benefits all those onboard including patients, healthcare professionals and commissioners of services, who expect savings and efficiencies to be realised for their investment.

NWL’s primary goal was to create a robust and data-rich architecture before enrolling patients. This has ensured that their patient portal – the Care Information Exchange, is a valuable part of their future digital roadmap, and a key asset to patients and professionals in the region.

This (along with other PKB deployments) has taught us an awful lot about the dos and don’ts of implementing patient portals at scale. We have captured these insights with our wider experience of developing personal health records (PHRs) in our new white paper called ‘Rolling out a patient portal at scale’.  This white paper uncovers the insights that have led to a rapid uptake in patient portals with key considerations including:

  • Objective statement – a clear statement of intention
  • Information governance (IG) giving data subjects access to and control over the sharing of their data
  • Architecture modelhow the data will interoperate
  • Integrationnavigating industry standards on data and integrating with local systems
  • Patient controlcreating a transparent consent layer to protect information and put patients in the driving seat
  • Marketing campaigncommunicating to engage interested parties
  • Accumulation and Access to data – curating a rich dataset
  • Evaluation – measuring impact and responding to the statistics

By taking a measured and pragmatic approach to address each of the areas identified above, you give your organisation the best chance of rolling out data access through PHRs at scale to your patient population. Sign up for your copy at 

Patients Know Best is the most used patient portal in the UK. Talk to us if you are interested in learning more about launching a patient portal initiative of your own by contacting us at You can also learn more about the impact and effectiveness of patient-controlled records at

For more information about how patient portals with PKB are benefitting millions around the country, see our 10-Year Celebration ebook.


One comment

  1. You need to sort out the Information Governance and Consent issues. Otherwise at some point in the future there will be some major issues. Objecting patients need to have their objections respected. If I do not want a hospital to share my data with Patients Know Best, and just have my data held locally on their record system, then that choice needs to be respected. Patients Know Best needs to stop treating the public like they’re stupid by confuddling them with meaningless jargon that covers up the real intent of the organisations who are commissioning you.

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