Patient Portal Enhancements Enable Students to Set Name-in-Use, Pronoun, and Gender Identity

Editor's note:

Updated terminology and explanation of continued use of the term "preferred" name. 

Columbia Health
July 08, 2019

Fall 2021 Update:

The preferred name field now syncs directly to the preferred name field in the Columbia Health Patient Portal. Learn more.


Students can now enter their name-in-use and pronouns directly in the Columbia Health Patient Portal.

There is now a field where students can identify and edit their name-in-use, pronouns, and gender identity.

Previously, students had to request their name-in-use be added to their records. 

This change is an important step in enabling students to maintain their own record and ensure it reflects their identity.

Columbia Health is also working on a real-time integration with the Student Services Online Support and Development (SSOL) system so in the future, students will be able to note their name-in-use in SSOL and it will feed to the Patient Portal.

A note about the use of “preferred name” and “preferred pronouns”

Currently, the form fields for entering one's name-in-use and pronouns are called "preferred names" and "preferred nouns." Columbia Health understands that the term “preferred” in reference to one’s name-in-use and pronouns can be disempowering for individuals and has as an organization made a commitment to shifting toward more affirming language.   


Unfortunately the systems that we are using have not updated their field name in their database to reflect this shift. We continue to work with our institutional and technology partners to ensure that these updates are made. Learn more about Columbia's policies here

These enhancements come at the heels of additional developments on the Patient Portal designed to make it easier for students to provide Columbia Health with information that will improve their care on campus and satisfy requirements well before arrival.

New incoming students for the Fall 2019 term will have the ability to input and upload the following directly into the Portal:

  • Name-in-use, pronouns, and gender identity,
  • personal and family medical history, and
  • Measles, Mumps, and Rubella compliance data.

Columbia Health welcomes feedback from all members of the Columbia community to improve our efforts in providing inclusive options for students and facilitate information-sharing between medical providers and their patients. Please email [email protected] with suggestions or questions.

What is a "Preferred Name," Name-in-Use or Chosen Name?

A "Preferred Name," Name-in-Use, or Chosen Name is a name a student wishes to be known by in the University community that is different from a student’s Legal Name. 

What is a Legal Name? 

A Legal Name is the name that appears on your passport, driver’s license, birth certificate, or U.S. Social Security Card.