All You Need To Know About Patient Portals

October 6, 2017
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Patient portals are secured online applications that are connected to the EHR (Electronic Health Record) and allow patients to communicate and interact with their physicians or doctors. Patients have a 24-hour access to their health information that can be accessed from anywhere. Patient portals are created to include a lot of health information, although it is not always that various data points can be viewed.

Features

A typical portal would contain various health information that can vary from lab results, physician notes, immunizations, allergies, discharge summaries, medical history or doctor visits that you’ve scheduled. It is not always that patient portal software will have all features enabled, although, quite a number of them offer additional information and provide real time results.

You can view demographic data, get lab updates in real time with some portals offering additional features such as scheduling an online appointment, refill requests for your prescriptions, online bill payments and a direct messaging or email capability that is completely secure.

Some features can go as advanced as updating information, downloading forms, and education materials, checking for coverage and benefits as per your convenience. This just goes to show that through patient portals, the communication gap is being bridged with added support that a patient needs. Outcomes improve significantly with the implementation of patient portal software and everyone in the industry is jumping on this technological opportunity that is changing the nature of healthcare.

The Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) recently notified that almost 64% of hospitals allowed their patients to view the portal, transmit health data and download from the patient portals. Comparatively, 51% of hospitals were able to securely converse with their patients via the portal.

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Who can use patient portals?

If your provider offers patient portal software, a visitor or a patient will need a system and an internet connection to register. Follow the instructions on the portal and once registered, you can perform basic tasks by clicking on the links most relevant. You will also be able to communicate with your healthcare provider via the messaging center in case of queries or emergencies. A parent may be given access to a child’s patient information in the portal if the child is under 18 years of age. Healthcare care providers can get in touch with you through patient portals on news and updates that may very well need to be informed.

Benefit to the hospital

In the healthcare industry, many in the industry have turned to patient portal software in an attempt to increase patient engagement. Statistics show that around 88% of healthcare leaders either currently use or have future plans to implement a portal. With the adoption rates so high, it is clear that the benefits are bountiful. Apart from providing a meaningful requirement to their users, the hospital also benefits from reduced expenses in administration. Digitizing the manual paperwork helps the workflow to be optimized, reduces manual work by staff saving thousands of dollars every month.

Benefit to the patient

Patients benefit from quality care, upload or download their health document at any time, collate all data from their wearables, mobile devices and health apps in one single platform. This also allows them to generate accurate diagnostic reports immediately, and keep their information up-to-date. Access to all their data lets patients and physicians take competent healthcare decisions using functions of the portal. An advantage, though, is being able to receive reminders and alerts for your scheduled appointments or dosage of medication. Be it treatment advice or flu shot reminders, patient portals lead to better care and management of a patient’s health.

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The benefits of patient portals are increasing over time. However, it also faces certain detrimental that may need to be focused when using a patient portal. Sustained utilization still remains as a challenge in areas where many patients don’t have an email ID and will not be able to fully utilize the benefits the healthcare industry has to offer. Alternatively, a diverse environment would mean that English may not be the only language that is widely understood. The only way to break these barriers is for healthcare leaders and policy makers to widely encourage adoption and be enthusiastic about positive feedback that can be implemented for the betterment of the patient and the healthcare industry.