Patient portals have become an important part of a doctor’s toolset and have already changed the face of digital healthcare in many ways. Here are some important things to know about a patient portal.
What are patient portals?
A patient portal is simply a website that provides patients with access to various medical data. The patients can look up lab results, physician’s notes, health summaries, immunization charts, and so on, on these portals.
What services do they offer?
Not all portals offer the same kind of services and this depends on the portal provider. Certain portals allow patients access only to medical history while others even offer services that allow patients to view lab results, schedule appointments online or have direct secure messaging, online payment of bills, and even provide prescription refill requests and updates.
How are they beneficial?
The patient portals have a lot of benefits as is obvious from the services they provide. With the patients gaining direct access to healthcare data, they become better prepared to take their health and related concerns into their own hands. With secure messaging services that certain portals provide, patients get a much more satisfactory experience that ensures their loyalty to the portal provider and a particular healthcare facility. Also, with these secure messaging services, a care provider is able to keep a constant lookout for their chronically ill patients and can help them manage their conditions better. A patient that feels comfortable and properly heard by the healthcare providers is more likely to return to the establishments for more healthcare related services.
The Past and the Future of Patient Portals
While information portals have been around for a very long time, it was not until the recent years that patient portals became a familiar concept due to the fear of violations of the HIPAA regulations that are pretty strict. Patient portals and electronic medical history, however, managed to overcome this hurdle and by 2012 about fifty-seven percent of the healthcare providers already had a patient portal in place.
The future of patient portals holds much promise as E-visits may soon become a familiar concept. This will provide patients living in remote and inaccessible areas with a platform to obtain clinical services. E-visits can help the patients keep a constant eye on their allergies, infections or other diseases without having to make a face-to-face appointment with a doctor. However, this has an interesting impact on insurance companies as research shows that e-visits lead to a drop in utilization up to about twenty-five percent. Currently, most insurance companies do not reimburse on e-visits.
How common are they?
This technology has been gaining a lot of traction in recent times in the healthcare industry. According to surveys conducted by the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, in 2014 about sixty-four percent of hospitals provided their patients with access to view, download and transmit their healthcare data while about fifty-one percent provided their patients with the direct secure messaging service. In more recent surveys, it was found that in 2016 about fifty-eight percent doctors and healthcare providers connected to their patients using mobile-friendly patient portal services.
The rising popularity of patient portals is with good reason, as these portals are very powerful in patient engagement and satisfaction even though it might be true that not all patient portals provide the same features. With a better understanding of this technology, service providers can put it to good use in order to cater to the needs of their clients, both within and without the walls of a hospital or clinic.