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Patient portals & shared electronic health records

​There is a range of technology that will support care planning and 'same page care'. These range from care planning tools, shared electronic health records to open notes, patient portals and e-health programmes. This page provides a brief introduction to each of these topics. 

Patient portals


Patient portals are secure online sites, provided by general practice teams, where patients can access their health information and interact with their general practice.

Patient portals give patients secure online access to their own personal health information 24/7 and enable them to manage aspects of their own health care.

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"Patient portals save time, increase autonomy and enhance relationships."

Dr Richard Medlicott, Wellington GP


Portals can allow patients to:

  • request repeat prescriptions

  • book appointments

  • see their lab results

  • see GP's clinical notes

  • see their current diagnosis

  • see a list of their medical conditions

  • see a list of the medications they are on

  • see their immunisation and vaccination history

  • receive reminders and recalls from the practice team

  • send and receive secure messages to and from their GP or a practice nurse.


Dr Will Reedy and Dr Jeff Lowe discuss the use of patient portals as a means of consumer empowerment and how to improve uptake of portals in New Zealand.

Patient portals and empowerment 8 April 2021, HiNZ

e-Health ambassadors and portal resources

The IT Health Board appointed eight e-Health Ambassadors with expertise in patient portals in February 2014. Read their stories and experience with introducing patient portals, what worked, what didn't and their suggestions for improving workflow. 

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"The patient portal is easy to use, gives patients a lot more control over their healthcare and frees our staff from a number of administrative tasks. We’re also seeing clinical benefits." 

Dr David Thompson, Auckland GP

GPs thinking about introducing a patient portal may wish to contact an e-Health Ambassadors for their advice. Send all queries to: with the name of the e-Health Ambassador you wish to contact in the subject line.​


Frequently asked questions

  • What is a patient portal?

  • What do patient portals offer?

  • Why should I use a patient portal?

  • How do patient portals work?

  • What technology will I need to use a patient portal?

  • Will I need to be trained to use a patient portal?

  • Can I use my patient portal in an emergency?

  • Will I be able to see all my health information on a patient portal?

  • How safe are patient portals?

  • Do I have to use a patient portal?

  • How many New Zealanders have access to a patient portal?

  • Do doctors have to introduce a patient portal?

For more questions see the National Health IT Board FAQ 


Implementing a patient portal


The Royal NZ College of General Practitioners and the Ministry of Health's National IT Board have developed a useful implementation guide for general practice clinics. 

What is 'Open Notes?'

OpenNotes is the term given to opening up the health record so that patients can see their own notes and medical record including consultation records, lab results, immunisations, medications and recalls. This is done through a secure online portal, similar to online banking. 

  • Why is shifting to Open Notes important?

  • More than 60% of patients reported doing better with taking medications as prescribed because of open notes.

  • More than 77% of patients reported that open notes helped them feel more in control of their care.

  • More than 86% of patients agreed that open notes would be an important factor in choosing a future doctor or health plan.

  • Fewer than 8% of doctors reported taking more time to address patients’ questions outside of visits.

  • Fewer than 20% of doctors reported taking more time writing notes.

  • 99% of patients wanted open notes to continue.

Read more about Open Notes, Health Navigator NZ

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For more videos, visit OpenNotes Health Navigator NZ

Shared electronic health record


Shared electronic health records, also known as SEHR, are web-based systems that presents a summary of your health information in approved clinical settings, such as after-hours clinics, hospital and emergency departments. This enables the clinical staff caring for someone in an acute situation to access critical health information, improving patient safety and treatment decisions.


While each system or region may have slightly different rules or configuration, information that will be available typically includes: 

  • Patient name, date of birth and contact details.

  • A list of long-term medical conditions.

  • Allergies.

  • Prescribed medications.

  • Test results.

  • Some community radiology results (this varies).


In addition, consultation notes may be included for general practices that have opted in to this option.


Examples of regions and organisations in NZ with a SEHR include:

  • MidCentral DHB, Wairarapa DHB, Hutt Valley DHB, and Capital and Coast DHB (SEHR provided by indici™ )

  • Whanganui (ManageMyHealth™ a Medtech product, provides the SEHR to the Whanganui Regional Health Network)

  • Hauraki PHO has a SEHR in the Waikato, Coromandel and Thames region.


Learn more

Manage My Health Medtech's patient portal 
Health 365: A patient's guide to the portal My Practice
How to go to the doctor... Electronically NZ Herald, 2016

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