J Am Med Inform Assoc 18:i18-i23 doi:10.1136/amiajnl-2011-000184
  • Brief communication
  • Focus on personal health records

MyHealthAtVanderbilt: policies and procedures governing patient portal functionality

  1. Gretchen Purcell Jackson2,5
  1. 1Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
  2. 2Department of Biomedical Informatics, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
  3. 3Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
  4. 4Department of Anesthesiology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
  5. 5Department of Pediatric Surgery, Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Chandra Y Osborn, Division of General Internal Medicine and Public Health, Center for Health Services Research, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 1215 Twenty-First Ave South, Ste 6000, MCE North Tower, Nashville TN 37232-8300, USA; chandra.osborn{at}
  • Received 14 February 2011
  • Accepted 16 June 2011
  • Published Online First 31 July 2011


Explicit guidelines are needed to develop safe and effective patient portals. This paper proposes general principles, policies, and procedures for patient portal functionality based on MyHealthAtVanderbilt (MHAV), a robust portal for Vanderbilt University Medical Center. We describe policies and procedures designed to govern popular portal functions, address common user concerns, and support adoption. We present the results of our approach as overall and function-specific usage data. Five years after implementation, MHAV has over 129 800 users; 45% have used bi-directional messaging; 52% have viewed test results and 45% have viewed other medical record data; 30% have accessed health education materials; 39% have scheduled appointments; and 29% have managed a medical bill. Our policies and procedures have supported widespread adoption and use of MHAV. We believe other healthcare organizations could employ our general guidelines and lessons learned to facilitate portal implementation and usage.


  • Funding Dr Osborn is supported by the NIH National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases (Osborn, K01 DK087894) and by the Vanderbilt University Diabetes Research and Training Center Pilot and Feasibility Grant (Powers, P60 DK020593). Drs Jackson, Johnson, and Rosenbloom are supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (Rosenbloom, R18 HS019276; Johnson, R18 HS018168). Drs Anders and Stenner are supported by the National Library of Medicine (Gadd, T15 LM007450). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of these granting agencies.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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